07/07/18 - 10:10
Noirmoutier-en-l'Île - Fontenay-le-Comte
Tour de France • Stage1

Noirmoutier-en-l'Île - Fontenay-le-Comte

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Here's how Gaviria won today's Tour opener. Thanks for joining us and see you tomorrow for stage 2.

Video - Finish: Gaviria sprints to debut win on Stage 1


Confirmation that Froome, Porte and Adam Yates conceded 51 seconds at the finish - while Quintana came home 1'15" down on the main pack. Drama on the first day of the 105th Tour de France.


We're still waiting for the full results but Quintana would have lost more time than Froome and Porte, and there will be other casualties too. What a charged final 12km that was - more like Paris-Roubaix than the Vendee, and the cobbles are still a week away!


Today's top 10 and a yellow jersey for Gaviria on his Tour debut. And it's not often that you see the names of Fuglsang and Majka in a bunch sprint, is it?


Chris Froome and Richie Porte came home in a chasing group some 50 seconds behind Gaviria...


Dylan Groenewegen, Michael Matthews and John Degenkolb were also there in that reduced bunch sprint after a chaotic finale.


A superb lead-out by Quick-Step there and Gaviria beat Peter Sagan by a bike length to open up his Tour account, with Marcel Kittel in third. Alexander Kristoff and Christophe Laporte complete the top five.


The Colombian is the first rider to win a stage on his Grand Tour debut since Fabian Cancellara in 2004.




Gaviria, Sagan, Cav, Kristoff, Kittel are all still here... One to go.


Bora-Hansgrohe drive the pace on the front. It looks like Porte is in the chasing group too.


DISASTER FOR QUINTANA! The Colombian punctures and needs a new wheel. But it's taking a very long time - and he's standing by the side of the road as the Froome chasing group zip by.


Froome is battling back in a chase group but he will lose time today.


CHRIS FROOME OFF THE ROAD! The defending champion is shouldered off the road on a bend by a Katusha-Alpecin rider - and he's over his handlebars and in a ditch.


The Sky rider who went down was Egan Bernal, who has some cuts - a terrible start to his Grand Tour debut. He's fighting back on, while Wout Poels was also caught up in the first incident.


LottoNL-Jumbo, Astana, Bora, Lotto Soudal and Quick-Step all near the front now. The past 10km have been typically hectic and nervous for a Tour opener.


Pierre Latour is fighting back on after being held up in that first crash. He's a key team-mate for Bardet. No news who the Sky rider was. The main pack is down to about 120 riders.


CRASH: A Sky rider goes down on a pinch point as the road narrows going over a bridge. That was at speed and right onto his right shoulder.


Arnaud Demare was one of the Groupama riders who went down - and the Frenchman will have a huge battle to get back on. The pack has split and it's Dimension Data doing the pace setting.


It's the well-oiled Quick-Step train on the front of the pack now alongside the Dimension Data team of Mark Cavendish. And that's why... CRASH! A couple of Groupama-FDJ riders go down and bring others with them, holding up some of the peloton - including Richie Porte.


Maybe Naesen just wanted to neutralise the sprint by taking the final bonus second and therefore make it less stressful for his team leader Romain Bardet? Seems a lot of effort for one second. The gap is down to 10" now for the leading duo, while Lawson Craddock is well off the back of the pack now following his crash earlier.


It's Cousin who takes the sprint ahead of Offredo, with Naesen mopping up the final bonus second for third place just ahead of the peloton.


The gap is down to just 20 seconds as the two leaders edge closer to the bonus sprint...


ATTACK: The former Belgian national champion Oliver Naesen (Ag2R-La Mondiale) has zipped clear of the pack. Is he after the bonus sprint points or the stage win? It's hard to tell. But similar tactics served fellow Ag2R-La Mondiale rider Jan Bakelants well in stage 2 of the 2013 Tour in Corsica...


Lawson Craddock, who crashed in the feed zone, is off the back now.


Ledanois, his work for the day done, has dropped back and will soon be caught by the peloton. Offredo and Cousin are battling it out for the combativity prize with 25 seconds to play with.


We're hearing that Dutch youngster Antwan Tolhoek (LottoNL-Jumbo) crashed before the climb but he's back on his bike.


The three escapees are back together but only have 45 seconds to play with now - and with that new bonus sprint coming up in 13km we'll almost certainly see it come back together very soon.


Having missed out on the KOM point, Cousin continues his acceleration and rides clear with Ledanois. They open up a small gap over Offredo, who looks cooked.


Kevin Ledanois out-sprints Jerome Cousin to take the solitary point over the summit as Joann Offredo toils behind. So, it will be the Tour debutant who will wear the first polka dot jersey of the race.


We're onto the only climb of the day, the Cat.4 Cote de Vix (0.7km at 4.2%).


Here's that new jersey that Sky are sporting - with the Ocean Rescue whale motif.


Offredo has been reeled in. The three riders share some words. Offredo doesn't look best pleased. Their gap over the pack is down to 1'05".


With the roads now rolling a little and the climb around 3km away, Yoann Offredo has zipped clear of his fellow escapees. A bold move from a rider who knows what he wants. But has he gone too early?


Who knew that Arnaud Demare was such a keen gardener? I suppose it's no surprise that a fast sprinter would have such green fingers...


Unless something of Lukas Postlberger proportions happens, we'll see a sprinter in yellow today.


Within the next hour we will know who's in yellow, green, polka dot and white... most importantly, we'll know who is the first stage winner on this year's Tour. The gap is down to 1'20" for the three leaders as they continue their bid to make it to the solitary Cat.4 climb ahead of the pack.


The Daily Mirror wasn't totally wrong...


Lawson Craddock is riding at the back of the peloton so the American hasn't thrown in the towel despite that nasty crash in the feed zone. I guess he'll reassess things this evening - he didn't look in a good way earlier, with clear problems with his left shoulder or collarbone.


The climb doesn't come until 28km to go so it's not a given that this break will stay out ahead to contest for the polka dot jersey points: their gap is down to just 1'30" now.


The gap is back above the two-minute mark again as the wind starts to get rather blustery.


Having just watched the video for the first time, it's quite brief and - to be fair - pretty basic. The defending champion Michael Matthews, for instance, is included - but he's already said he's not going to defend his green jersey and instead will focus on supporting Tom Dumoulin and trying to nick a stage win himself. This written guide is a bit more comprehensive - click the link below for more.


In the lull after the first intermediate sprint, why not watch our green jersey video guide? Peter Sagan is gunning for a record-equalling sixth green jersey... but he'll have stiff opposition from the pure sprinters.


The gap drops under the two-minute mark for the three escapees, who have been away pretty much since kilometre zero today. Poor Lawson Craddock is off the back after long talks with Charley Wegelius in the EF Education First car. It remains to be seen if he can continue - it could be a long and painful two hours for the American. His absence would be an early blow for Colombia's Rigoberto Uran.


When the peloton comes through the intermediate sprint it's Gaviria who mops up the maximum remaining points for fourth place ahead of Greipel and Demare, with Sagan not far behind.


It's uncontested at the intermediate sprint at La Tranche-Sur-Mer with Jerome Cousin rolling over first in the break ahead of Kevin Ledanois and Yoann Offredo.


We're hearing that Lawson Craddock (EF Education First-Drapac) crashed in the feed zone. Not the best start for the 26-year-old American's second Tour.


Dutch veteran Robert Gesink, the road captain at LottoNL-Jumbo, is putting in a big shift on the front of the peloton. His team-mate Dylan Gronewegen will hope to pick up some green jersey points at the intermediate sprint - test his legs ahead of the final showdown in a couple of hours.



The peloton has passed through the feed zone and we're now about 10 kilometres away from the intermediate sprint,so we can expect a bit of activity soon as the sprinters start to jostle for green jersey points.


Eurosport TV have just run a long interview with Team Sky's Michal Kwiatkowski. He spoke for ages - and no doubt said many interesting things - but all we got filtering through on translation was fairly prosaic: "We're here to win the GC so our main goal is to keep Chris on the front and out of trouble. There are always crashes when things are tense at the start of the Tour. We want to protect Chris and make sure he doesn't lose any time."


We're now over half way through today's opening stage with 100 clicks still left to ride. Quick-Step, Groupama-FDJ, Dimension Data and LottoNL-Jumbo all have men on the front of the pack, paving the way for their sprinters Fernando Gaviria, Arnaud Demare, Mark Cavendish and Dylan Groenewegen. The gap is 2'28".



Offredo, 31, is riding his second Tour after making his debut last year. His only pro win came way back in 2009 in the Tour de Picardie. Jerome Cousin, 29, starts his third Tour. He made the headlines earlier this season with a canny victory over Nils Pollit in stage 5 of Paris-Nice. The final rider in this break is Kevin Ledanois, 24, who makes his Grand Tour debut. He has no pro wins but has time on his side. The gap of the three escapees is back up to three minutes.


As I mentioned earlier, Yoann Offredo was a regular fixture in breakaways last year. Here are his stats from the 2017 race.


The reason why the race couldn't use the narrow tidal path of the Passage du Gois - last negotiated in 2011, but most famously in 1999 (when crashes caused chaos on the slippery surface) - was quite simple: it was under water in the morning, and the opening stage needed to start early so that it doesn't clash with Sweden's dour 1-0 win over England in the World Cup this afternoon...


First sightings of the LottoNL-Jumbo team who have sent a man forward for their sprinter Dylan Groenewegen. The Dutchman won on the Champs Elysees last year and has had a solid season. He could be a real factor in these bunch sprints. It's an exciting team which also boasts the likes of Primoz Roglic, Steven Kruijswijk and Robert Gesink, who should all fare well in the mountains.


The peloton enters the coastal town of Les Sables d'Olonne with a deficit of 2'30" to the three-man break. Jay Thomson, who makes his Tour debut aged 32, is on the front for Dimension Data, while Direct Energie have a few riders present: they may hope Jerome Cousin can take the polka dot jersey, but they'll also hope for a high finish for their rookie sprinter Thomas Boudat at the finish.


Tim Declercq on the front of the pack for Quick-Step Floors doing the role that Julien Vermote (now at Dimension Data) assumed last year. Groupama-FDJ have a man there, as do Direct Energie and DD, with the Team Sky squad of Chris Froome, the beleaguered defending champion, tucked in behind.


Earlier we had a bit of showboating from Kevin Ledanois as he bunny hopped a roundabout...


Mark Cavendish is currently off the back of the pack with a few Dimension Data team-mates after a few issues. Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) also needs a wheel change after a puncture. The Belgian will have fine memories of the Vendee - he won on the Mont des Alouettes when the race last started in the Vendee back in 2011, the year the route negotiated the infamous tidal road of the Passage du Gois (which the riders avoided today when crossing over from Noirmoutier).


In the first of a series that will last all July...


This will be the first Grand Tour that Adam Hansen hasn't ridden since the Vuelta in 2011. It was a run of 20 consecutive Grand Tours which always had to come to an end at one point... and that point is this July. But the race's - and Lotto Soudal's - loss is our gain. We've got Adam helping out in the commentary box - and the Aussie veteran is currently chewing the fat for Rob Hatch if you'd like to tune in.


Greg van Avermaet had some more mechanical problems, as did his Swiss team-mate Stefan Kung. A few teething troubles for the team-mates of Richie Porte...


The importance of an early win can't be underestimated for the sprinters. Last year, Kittel won the first road stage - and went on to win five stages in 11 days. The year before, Cavendish won the opening stage - his first of four stage wins. In 2015 it was Andre Greipel's turn to take the first win - and the big German ended up with four wins come Paris. In 2014 it was the same for Kittel: he won the opening stage and then stages 3, 4 and 21. A year earlier, Kittel won the opener in Corsica and ended up with four wins. In 2012 it was Peter Sagan who took first blood - and ended up with three wins. So, you can see the pattern... That's why today's sprint will be so important. It's all about momentum.


Dimension Data send Jay Thomson onto the front of the pack to help with the tempo setting - that's a good sign, it shows that Mark Cavendish is feeling confident. Remember, the British sprinter has 30 wins to his name in the Tour - just four shy of Eddy Merckx's record of 34. The gap is down to 3'10" for the three escapees.


Why not play our Fantasy cycling game for the Tour - spice things up every day by putting your feet in the shoes of a directeur sportif?


Some mechanical issues for the Olympic champion Greg van Avermaet, who needs to drop back to the BMC team car for some adjustments on his pedals and rear derailleur.


There's a new addition to the first nine stages this year. With the exception of the TTT on Monday, there will be a special 'B' sprint each day which is entirely separate from the intermediate sprint competition (which earns riders points for the green jersey classification). The bonus sprints offer 3-2-1 seconds to the first three riders and today's comes with 13.5km remaining and after the Cat.4 climb. As for the finish, there are 10-6-4 seconds up for grabs for the first three every day (except those time trials). So, whatever happens today, the winner of the stage will be in yellow - even if the rider who is runner-up wins the bonus sprint.


According to the Dimension Data predictor... the winner today will be... Arnaud Demare. Thoughts?


So far, so routine today - with the three-man break staying around four minutes clear as the Groupama-FDJ team of Arnaud Demare come to the front to lead the chase.


The sprinting field here is scary. Today any of the following are in with a decent chance: Peter Sagan, Fernando Gaviria, Arnaud Demare, Michael Matthews, Marcel Kittel, Mark Cavendish, Alexander Kristoff, Dylan Groenewegen, Andre Greipel, Sonny Colbrelli, Christophe Laporte, John Degenkolb, Greg van Avermaet, Jose Rojas, Magnus Cort Nielsen...


Here was the moment Offredo, Cousin and Ledanois attacked from the outset...


The gap is pushing four minutes now as the three leaders hit mainland France. How long will the peloton allow this one to go out? I reckon around seven minutes maximum.


Some light relief from the inimitable UK Cycling Expert... We're going to need his input over some of these longer, flatter stages of the opening week.


The gap is nearing three minutes now for the three leaders as the Quick-Step and Dimension Data teams of Gaviria and Britain's Mark Cavendish come to the front to comtrol the tempo of the pack.


Kittel, of course, is now at Katusha-Alpecin - and it will be a huge surprise to see him win four times in this Tour, such has been the German's poor form since his switch. In his place at Quick-Step, it's the Colombian Fernando Gaviria who makes his long-awaited Tour debut - hoping to build on the four stage wins he notched in his debut Giro last year.


Two minutes now for the break, who have found no opposition to their endeavours today. Offredo may be familiar to many of you at home: the Frenchman was in frequent moves last year and even complained to his fellow riders that not enough were trying to defy the sprinters and get in breaks. He said there was a sense of inevitability and defeatism in the pack during the opening week last year - not entirely without reason, as Quick-Step throttled proceedings and led their man Marcel Kittel out to four wins.


Belgian Thomas de Gendt - who racked up more than 1,000 breakaway kilometres in last year's Tour - looked tempted to get involved there, but the Lotto Soudal rider thought better of it.


The three escapees are Kevin Ledanois (Fortuneo-Samsic), Jerome Cousin (Direct Energie) and Yoann Offredo (Wanty-Groupe Gobert). So, three Frenchmen doing battle for sponsorship time and the first polka dot jersey - because there is no way the teams of the sprinters will let this trio stay out to contest the final win.


Attacks from the outset - and we have three riders who zip clear. And no surprise: they're all from wildcard teams - Direct-Energie, Wanty-Groupe Gobert and Fortuneo-Samsic.


And they're off! The 2018 Tour de France is now officially under way....


Just a few hundred metres to go of this neutral zone now - and Christian Prudhomme, the race director, is primed with his flag as he stands through the sun roof of his red Skoda.


Here's a quick reminder of the official route of this year's Tour. You've got to feel sorry for pretty much the entire of central and north-east France...


The Tour organisers asked all the national champions to come to the front to spearhead the peloton as it started to roll out of Noirmoutier. They are: Yves Lampaert (Belgium, Quick Step Floors), Gorka Izagirre (Spain, Bahrain-Merida), Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland, Sky), Lukas Pöstlberger (Austria, Bora-Hansgrohe), Daryl Impey (South Africa, Mitchelton-Scott), Bob Jungels (Luxemburg, Quick Step Floors) and the world champion Peter Sagan (Slovakia, Bora-Hansgrohe). European champion Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) has also joined the gathering, along with local rider Fabien Grellier (Direct Energie).


It's already very hot in France as the 176 riders (eight men for each 22 teams) roll out of the start town of Noirmoutier and start the short 5km neutral section of the stage. The sun is out and it's going to push the mercury above 30 degrees later on. And if that's not salty enough, the peloton is passing the famous salt mines of Noirmoutier...


And here it is - the official profile of today's opening stage: a largely pan-flat 201km ride to Fontenay-le-Comte. Any winds along the coast would spice things up - and the single Cat.4 climb will decide who wears the first polka dot jersey of the race - but ultimately it will come down to the expectant bunch sprint, where we will find out who wears the race's first yellow jersey.


Bonjour le Tour! Hello and welcome to live coverage of the grand depart of the 105th edition of the Tour de France. We're in Noirmoutier-en-Ile off the Atlantic coast of the Vendee in north-west France - and the 2018 Grande Boucle is about to get under way.