Tour de France 2018: Chris Froome crashes as Fernando Gaviria claims stunning win on dramatic stage one

Defending champion was involved in a crash with 1km to go but appeared to avoid any injury

Lawrence Ostlere
Saturday 07 July 2018 16:13 BST
How Chris Froome won his fourth Tour de France

The opening stage of this Tour de France was supposed to be a gentle jaunt along the Vendée coast, the calm before the storm to come, but in the final 6km this race thundered into life when Chris Froome flew over his handlebars moments before one of his most dangerous rivals, Nairo Quintana, suffered a puncture. Both recovered to finish the race but Froome lost around a minute on the eventual winner, the prodigiously talented debutant Fernando Giviria.

The 23-year-old Colombian, who is considered to be the next big thing in sprinting, was nerveless in a chaotic bunch sprint to position himself for the final dash, where he reeled in multiple-stage winners Marcel Kittel and Peter Sagan to steal a stunning victory.

The cocky ease with which Gaviria clinched his first ever Tour de France stage was an extraordinary storyline in itself. He will have the honour of wearing the yellow jersey on Sunday’s stage two, and it is tempting to wonder whether he can make the green jersey – for so long almost exclusively the property of Sagan – his own over the next three weeks.

But after Froome drew so much of the attention in the buildup to this race, it was his crash which provided a whole other layer of drama. If he is to make history and win his fifth Tour de France this summer he will have to do it coming from behind, just as he spectacularly won the Giro d’Italia in May.

Fernando Gaviria came from behind to win by half a bike (Getty)

Froome, who received some boos and jeers along the route, careered through a sponsor’s billowing advert on the roadside and on to a grass verge, and although he was quickly back on the road, he finished 51 seconds back from Gaviria and the main group over the line, and will start stage two with a deficit of 61 seconds once time bonuses are accounted for.

Fellow Briton Adam Yates finished alongside Froome while the diminutive Colombian Quintana finished several seconds behind them.

Team Sky’s four-time winner rolled over the finish line with his jersey ripped and dirtied but did not suffer any significant injuries.

“I’ve not been checked by the team doctor but I feel fine,” Froome said. “I’m OK, we saw a lot of crashes out there but we knew the first few days were going to be tricky. We were at the front of the peloton so there was not much more the guys could’ve done – it was just chaotic with the sprinters up there. I’m just grateful I’m not injured in any way and there is plenty of racing left to Paris.”

While a minute is a huge chunk of time to give up to the yellow jersey on a relatively straightforward opening stage, there is so much more road to cover, over cobbles, gravel and tarmac, over 20 more stages which make up one of the most demanding Tours for many years, including a late individual time trial which could change the whole complexion of the overall standings, Froome will not be overly concerned heading into stage two.

The peloton returns to the road on Sunday for a 183km route through the Vendée countryside which will again offer sprinters like the young Gaviria a platform to shine.

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