• Team Groupama-FDJ rider France's Thibaut Pinot suffered a crash during Stage 1 of the Tour de France. (Getty)Source: Getty
The roads around Nice were treacherously slippery and saw a large portion of the peloton crash during the opening stage of the Tour de France.
By
SBS Cycling Central

30 Aug 2020 - 4:04 AM 

The race got underway in the dry, but the rain quickly came in sheets, making the roads slippery on the descents and on the normally sun-drenched roads of southern France.

Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep) was the first major rider hit by the crashes, the Irish sprinter falling on a seemingly innocuous stretch of road before catching back up to the peloton.

Pavel Sivakov (INEOS Grenadiers), the right-hand man for defending champion Egan Bernal, was in the wars throughout the stage, falling twice and clearly the worse for wear from his misadventures. He eventually finished over 13 minutes down, out of any potential general classification race already.

Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quickstep), a noted bike-handler and descender was the next big name to fall, but appeared to suffer little difficulty in returning to the peloton. 

A large crash saw a large portion of the main bunch halted with Richie Porte caught up, but the Tasmanian was quickly back up and returned to the head of affairs to bark orders at his teammates. 

Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) was the next Australian caught up in the crashing, going down and finding himself well behind the leading group. The Aussie speedster was able to return to the main bunch after a concerted chase, but clearly had used up some energy, both himself and his teams in the sprint finish as he ended with a disappointing 19th. 

Luke Rowe of Ineos Grenadiers and George Bennett of Jumbo-Visma team tried to convince a keen Astana team to ride carefully in the rain but the Kazakh squad decided to push on the descent from the Côte de Rimiez. They were to pay for their enthusiasm, with team leader Miguel Angel Lopez losing traction and slipping out during a corner, lucky to avoid serious injury as he struck a signpost by the side of the road.

After that, the pace slowed significantly before the final ramp-up into the sprint finish. George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) fell and looked beaten up before eventually finishing over six minutes behind the race lead.

A high-speed fall with three kilometres to go hit the middle of the peloton, with Thibaut Pinot the biggest casualty amidst an awful day for crashes at the Tour de France. He was judged to have fallen just intside the crucial three-kilometre-to-go mark.

That meant that despite finishing the stage over four minutes down on sprint winner Alexander Kristoff he received the same time as the stage winner due to the rule which awards crashed riders the same time as the winner if there were in the same group as them during the final kilometres but got caught up in a fall.

So far, two riders have been eliminated from the Tour de France with John Degenkolb (Lotto Soudal), who finished over the time limit, and Rafael Valls (Bahrain McLaren) both out. 

The Tour de France continues with Stage 2, a mountainous affair that will test the climbers' legs early. Stage 2 will be broadcast from 8.30pm AEST on SBS HD, with the stage depart from 8.50pm AEST on the SBS ŠKODA Tour Tracker App and SBS On Demand.