• Froome has to get back on the road after crashing late in Stage 1 (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
It was supposed to be a quiet day for the general classification contenders, a 201 kilometre stroll down the coast from Noirmoutier-en-l'Île to Fontenay-le-Comte. Some of the favourites for yellow came crashing back to reality.
Cycling Central

8 Jul 2018 - 7:47 AM  UPDATED 8 Jul 2018 - 7:49 AM

The final 11 kilometres of Stage 1 went decidedly pear-shaped for the big favourites for the yellow jersey. Defending champion Chris Froome (Sky), Australian hopeful Richie Porte (BMC), British youngster Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and Colombian star Nairo Quintana (Movistar) all conceded major time to their rivals for the maillot jaune.

The real winners after today's stage in terms of GC include Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), Romain Bardet (Ag2R-Mondiale), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Mikel Landa (Movistar), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) Geraint Thomas (Sky) and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana). 

The first crash

Richie Porte talks about his time loss

Porte and Yates were the first of the leaders to fall behind. They were caught up behind a crash that blocked off the road with 11 kilometres remaining in the stage. Their teammates dropped back to help pace their leaders back on and it looked like they were making good headway initially before the sprint trains dialled up the pace on the run into the finish.

“It was pretty nervous there," Porte said after the stage. "That’s the Tour. I was pretty close to coming down. I sort of rode Damiano Caruso, my teammate, into the ground and that softened the blow. I don’t really know what happened to be honest, it’s just one of those things."

Bernal goes down

Egan Bernal, the youngest rider at the Tour and climbing phenom, had escaped the early mayhem but didn't survive a narrowing of the peloton to accommodate some road furniture with 8.8 kilometres to go. He was the only one to go down and didn't appear to be injured as he chased the race with some vigour.

Froome in a ditch

Froome crashes into a ditch

Live pictures didn't capture the four-time Tour winner running off the road with five and half kilometres to go, but on-board footage from a rider behind shows Froome was squeezed out whilst rounding a corner and tumbled downhill into a ditch. Froome was up quickly and joined the Porte/Yates group, with a number of teammates dropping back to help drive the pace. The team's back-up leader, Geraint Thomas, was the only Sky rider in the front group. 

“We were right at the front part of the peloton in the top third," said Froome. "There wasn’t too much more the guys could have done. It was getting quite chaotic with some of the sprinters there, but that’s bike racing. I’m just grateful I’m not injured in any way and there’s a lot of road to cover before Paris obviously."

Disgustingly, fans watching the broadcast at the finish all but cheered vision of a roughed up Froome. 

Quintana breaks wheels

Movistar were sitting pretty in the peloton, with all three of their leaders in position to take a commanding lead on their main rivals. That came to an end with 3.4 kilometres to go as Quintana suffered two broken wheels after he hit a traffic divider and had to take assistance from Mavic neutral service to replace both wheels.  

Quintana had to wait helplessly as the group of Froome and Porte passed him, eventually getting back into the race and getting help from teammates Imanol Erviti, Daniele Bennati and Andrey Amador to limit the damage.

“I rode over a kerb just before the last three kilometers," said Quintana, "had both wheels broken and it was impossible for me to continue riding that way, I had to stop. Sadly, things went that way – there’s no other thing left for us but carry on and try to recover in the upcoming stages.”

Stage 1 Winners

The wash-up

In the end Froome, Porte and Yates each lost 51 seconds to the front group. Quintana and Bernal were worse off still, finishing a further 24 seconds behind on the stage.

Strong time trial teams such as BMC, Sky and Mitchelton-Scott can all but wave goodbye to any advantage they might've gleaned for their leaders over rivals in stage 3's race against the clock. 

Gaviria took a 10 second time bonus on the finish line, so he sits over a minute ahead of the unlucky bunch.

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