TDF Stage 1 reaction: Winner & race leader Kittel, overall favourite Froome... and Matt White on 'busgate'
Cav was expected to win the opening stage of the 100th Tour... but no-one could have foreseen the way things turned out
Everyone hoped for an exciting start to the 100th edition of the Tour de France on Corsica today, but no-one could have predicted the chaotic scenes at the finish in Bastia as officials fought desperately to dislodge the Orica-GreenEdge bus from underneath the arch at the finish line.
A crash was more readily foreseeable, but perhaps not the fact it also took out some of the big favourites for today, including Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Mark Cavendish. Here’s some of the reaction to a helter-skelter start to the race.
Marcel Kittel of Argos-Shimano, stage winner and first maillot jaune of the 100th Tour de France
This morning I just thought I'd try to go a good race, that's what I always think before line up at the start. I was just trying to do my best and now we've got the yellow jersey. This is absolutely awesome and I really cannot believe it.
There was a big fight for the stage win, of course – as we knew that the winner would also have yellow – and everyone tried to stay in front so there was a lot of chaos but I'm very happy that my team worked so well to keep me out of trouble and keep me in a good position and to keep me safe.
It's perfect to have the yellow jersey: it's like gold on shoulders and I'm so, so happy that I can wear it today.
The finish was hectic. Chaotic. There were quite a lot of crashes and then, in the end, we had to do a lead-out that was far from normal. We had to go really early, with one-and-a-half kilometres to go to the finish.
Unfortunately some of my sprint rivals crashed today and it's always nice to compete against the best and to show that you can also win against them, not only if there's a crash. I'm looking forward to the next stages to sprint against André [Greipel] and Mark [Cavendish]. To be honest though, I don't want to even think about the next few stages; right now I just want to enjoy the yellow jersey and we'll see what happens tomorrow.
When I see the images on the television, I'm still speechless. It was a pretty unusual sprint compared to what we normally do because there was no real lead-out train in the end. Everyone was looking to us and we had to go really early. In the end, I had to stay in the wheel of Marcel Sieberg – I think that's who it was, but it might have been Jurgen Roelandts – and then, when I saw the 180 metres sign, I just went full-gas and sprinted with all I have.
I was shocked, to be honest... but in the best way for how you can feel shocked! It's a dream that's come true now and I'm so, so proud for my team, myself and everyone who has supported me and believed I could win the stage today.
Chris Froome, Team Sky, 2012 runner-up and favourite for the overall, who crashed in the neutralised zone before the Tour had even officially started
I managed to get through the rest of the day unscathed and if that’s the only crash I have this Tour I’ll take that!
I don’t think any of us expected it was going to be plain sailing today, but there were some pretty brutal crashes in the final there. Again it’s just another reminder that this Tour is about so much more than having the form and being here. It’s about staying out of trouble and looking after ourselves in the peloton at the same time.
I felt like guys were crashing all around me, but I managed to pick my way through and chase to get back on just in time for the final.
There was some uncertainty there in the final, but the main thing is that most of us have come through all right. G has gone to have some checks. He looks okay but it’s better to be on the safe side.
Orica GreenEdge sports director Matt White talks about “busgate”
Obviously, this was a really unfortunate situation. The bus was led under the finish gantry, and it we took for granted that there was enough clearance. We’ve had this bus since we started the team, and it’s the same bus we took to the Tour last year.
Our bus driver was told to move forward and became lodged under the finish gantry. He followed all instructions in the process that followed thanks to the hard work by ASO that allowed him to remove the bus before the finish. It was the best possible outcome given the situation.
It was hectic there in the final. Over the radio, we received information that the finish line had been brought forward 3km due to the fact that our bus was still lodged under the finish line. The frantic efforts to clear the bus proved successful, we had a few minutes’ notice that that finish line had been moved to its original place.