There was significant GC damage on Saturday’s Le Grand Départ of the Tour de France, with reigning champion Chris Froome crashing in a chaotic last 11-km and Colombian Fernando Gaviria winning on his Tour debut. Nairo Quintana’s untimely mechanical saw him lose the most time of the pre-race favourites, but Froome, Richie Porte and Adam Yates all lost 51-seconds. Gaviria is only the second Colombian to wear yellow.

The Course

It was a sprinter’s day, the 105th Tour starting in the Vendée region. The riders would face 201-km from Noirmoutier-en-l’Île to Fontenay-le-Comte, heading south along the coast and then inland to the finish town. A single Cat. 4 climb would entice someone to flare out 28-km from Fontenay-le-Comte and capture the first polka dot jersey.

The Breakaway

As expected, the first breakaway of the 2018 was a small one, a trio of Frenchmen from wildcard teams. It rolled up a 2:00 after only 5-km and took a maximum of 4:00 before Quick Step started to chip away at the gap.

Jérôme Cousin of Direct Energie cruised over the Tour’s first intermediate sprint at the 119-km mark, with Gaviria the best out of the bunch.

Movistar’s JJ Rojas threw down the gauntlet in the 105th edition’s carry-the-most-bidons competition.

The Cote de Vix didn’t seem like it worthy of designated climb status at 0.7-km of 4.2-percent, but Kevin Ledanois of Fortuneo-Samsic didn’t care. He nabbed the KOM point and stood on the stage at the end of the day to wear the polka dots.

The Bonus (Bonification) Sprint

This year, on eight of the first nine stages, there’s a bonus sprint. On Saturday it was placed at Maillezais with 13.5-km to go. Although there are no points on offer, there are time bonuses of 3, 2 and 1 seconds for the first three riders across the line, and a 10-second bonus for the day’s winner.

Cousin earned the 3-seconds and there were no seconds left for the main sprinters and the GC men.

Crashes

Quick Step had help from Dimension Data looking after the hopes of Mark Cavendish, Groupama-FDJ working for Arnaud Démare and LottoNL-Jumbo all in for Dylan Groenewegen on Saturday.

There was a crash midway through the peloton with 10.9-km to go. Richie Porte, Adam Yates, Pierre Latour and Démare were delayed. The last of the breakaways submitted soon after the crash. Then Sky’s white jersey aspirant Egan Bernal crashed solo.

Froome’s wreck at 5-km remaining had him coming down on his right shoulder on the side of the road.

To further the mayhem, Nairo Quintana banged over a traffic island and broke both his wheels with 3.5-km to go.

The Sprint in Fontenay-le-Comte

With a kilometre to go, the Porte and Yates group was lagging far behind the sprint bunch.

Quick Step delivered Gaviria precisely, and the Colombian held off a challenge from three time world champion Peter Sagan. Gaviria pulled on the yellow jersey and leads Sagan by four-seconds.

Sunday is another stage for the fast men.

2018 Tour de France GC After Stage 1
1) Fernando Gaviria (Colombia/Quick Step) 4:23:22
2) Peter Sagan (Slovakia/Bora-Hansgrohe) +0:04
3) Marcel Kittel (Germany/Katusha) +0:06
83) Richie Porte (Australia/BMC) +1:01
84) Adam Yates (Great Britain/Mitchelton-Scott) s.t.
91) Chris Froome (Great Britain/Sky) s.t.
113) Nairo Quintana (Colombia/Movistar) +1:25

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