Crashes Shake-up Stage 1 Final Kilometers
Froome, Porte, Quintana lose time
RBA/AFP Photos: Bettini
Chris Froome’s bid for a record-equaling fifth Tour de France title got off to a shaky start Saturday after a dramatic crash left him around 60 seconds down on rivals, Fernando Gaviria claiming the yellow jersey after a bunch sprint rounded off the first stage.
With just 6 kilometers to the finish, Froome went flying over a barrier and landed on a grassy bank, emerging seemingly unhurt as the peloton sped off to a frantic sprint where Quick Step’s Gaviria edged Peter Sagan and Marcel Kittel. Froome, fellow Briton Adam Yates, Colombian Nairo Quintana and Australian Richie Porte, all pre-Tour favorites, lost valuable seconds having been caught in a series of falls and flat tires over the final 10 kilometers of the 201 kilometer first stage.
Froome expressed both relief and his usual quiet confidence after the race. “We knew the first days were going to be tricky, what happened is part of the game,” said the 33-year-old who had a skinned knee and some possible bruising on his right shoulder after his head over heels fall.”It was getting quite chaotic up at the front with the sprinters getting into position.
“There wasn’t much he team could have done for me,” he said after being accompanied across the line by Luke Rowe. “I’m just relieved that I’m not injured.” Froome added: “There’s still a great deal of road on the way to Paris.”
Former Sky man Mikel Landa, 2014 champion Vincenzo Nibali and 2017 Giro champion Tom Dumoulin conversely, all finished in the main bunch having gained an unexpected early advantage over their key rivals that blows the Tour wide open.