Quick Step Floors rider Fernando Gaviria is the first wearer of the yellow jersey of this year’s Tour de France after claiming victory in today’s opening stage – but Team Sky’s Chris Froome, who is aiming to wear it in Paris three weeks tomorrow for a record-equalling fifth time saw his title defence get off to a bad start as he lost almost a minute to several rivals for the overall following a crash.
Shortly before his own crash, which happened with less than 10 kilometres remaining of today's 201 kilometre stage from Noirmoutier-en-L'Ile, Froome - cleared to race on Monday after the anti-doping case against him was dropped by the UCI - looked set to gain time on rivals including Mitchelton-Scott's Adam Yates and BMC Racing's Richie Porte - were caught up in a crash.
But the Team Sky rider's own chute shortly afterwards meant that while he, Yates and Porte crossed the line together 51 seconds behind Gaviria, they lost time to a number of rivals.
Those include Bahrain Merida's Vincenzo Nibali - besides Froome, the only former Tour de France winner in the race - Team Sunweb's Tom Dumoulin, the AG2R-:La Mondiale rider, Romain Bardet, and last year's runner-up, Rigoberto Uran of EF Education First-Drapac.
Another rider to lose time - 24 seconds, in his case - was Movistar's Nairo Quintana, who punctured with little more than 3 kilometres remaining.
Afterwards, Froome said: "I've not been checked by the team doctor but I feel fine.
"I'm okay, 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."
The stage had started with a three-man break comprising the French trio of Jerome Cousin, Kevin Ledanois and Yoann Offredo who were reeled in ahead of the expected sprint finish.
Gaviria, aged 23 and making his debut in the race, launched his sprint with 250 metres to go and held off Bora Hansgrohe's Peter Sagan and former team mate Marcel Kittel - now with Katusha-Alpecin - to take the win.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.