Mike Teunissen of Jumbo-Visma is the surprise winner of the opening stage of the 106th edition of the Tour de France in Brussels this afternoon and becomes the first rider to pull on the yellow jersey in a year that celebrates the centenary of perhaps the most fabled garment in sport.
As ever, the opening stage of the race was a nervous one, especially as it approached the business end, and one of the favourites for the general classification, Astana’s Jakob Fuglsang, crashed with a little less than 20 kilometres to go following a touch of wheels.
The Danish rider sustained a facial injury in the crash, blood streaming down his cheek as his team-mates paced him back to the peloton, with Fuglsang receiving treatment from the race doctor on the way.
A big crash around 1.5 kilometres out split the peloton and took down a number of riders, including one of the day’s favourites, Teunissen's team-mate Dylan Groenewegen, as the Dutch leadout man sprang a huge surprise to beat Bora Hansgrohe's three-time world champion Peter Sagan to the line to win the stage and take the overall lead.
Also involved in that late crash was defending champion Geraint Thomas of Team Ineos, but the Welshman remounted and completed the stage, apparently unhurt, and with the incident happening inside the final three kilometres will not lose any time.
The 194.5-kilometre stage started and finished in the Belgian capital and with Tour of Flanders signature climbs the Muur van Geraardsbergen and Bosberg tackled early on, it was a cobbled classics specialist, Greg van Avermaet of CCC Team, who got into a four-man break and clinched enough to take the mountains jersey.
With the peloton coming back together, next up was the opening salvo in the points competition which Sagan – for the first time ever at the Tour de France wearing a team jersey, rather than that of world or national champion, or points classification leader – is looking to win for a record seventh time.
The Slovakian rider took the honours at the intermediate sprint today, and together with the points accrued for his second place will be back in that familiar green jersey tomorrow – one that even this early in the race, it is difficult to see anyone taking off him.
The push that Sagan’s Bora-Hansgrohe team put in to set him up for taking maximum points there briefly split the peloton, but once again the race settled down as the group reformed.
The next attack, with more than 60 kilometres left, came from a lone rider, Stephane Rossetto of Cofidis, but with the sprinters’ teams having their eye on the prize of the yellow jersey, there was no prospect of the French rider staying away ahead of a frantic finale to the stage.
Stage winner Mike Teunissen
This is truly bizarre. Unreal. It’s all very special. We worked hard for months to do a sprint with Dylan here.
After his crash, we switched plans very quickly. The riders in front of me were struggling to keep their pace and I could only just outsprint Sagan.
The fact that I win a stage by beating these guys in the Tour is amazing.
This is what you dream of as a little boy. Now it has happened, it has become reality ... I can’t find the words for it.
Defending champion Geraint Thomas
I’m fine. It was pretty slow by the time I hit them. I gave myself enough space and avoided the actual crash but with the barriers there was nowhere to go. It’s just one of those things. The main thing is that it didn’t do any damage – the bike took the hit and I just toppled over.
It was good to get back in the groove with the boys. We were riding really well together, always at the front. Communication was good and we started on the front foot. We’ll try to continue that now. This first week is all about just getting through.
It’s a big day tomorrow – the team time trial. Hopefully we can all rest up well tonight and give it a good go tomorrow. We’ll go 100% to try and win the stage but there’s a lot of other good teams.
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.