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Chris Froome (R) was lucky to come away from a crash with nothing but a cut to his arm. (AP: Jeff Pachoud, pool photo)
Down in a ditch, Chris Froome had to hoist himself and his bike again up to the street.
It was a startling scene when the Crew Sky rider tumbled right into a grassy subject within the opening stage of the Tour de France on Saturday, instantly placing his pursuit of a record-tying fifth title in peril.
Froome, although, is getting used to these type of mishaps and challenges — whether or not meaning recovering from crashes or clearing his title of doping.
“I noticed loads of crashes on the market at present. It is simply one of these issues. We at all times knew the primary few days have been going to be tough and going to be sketchy. It is a part of the sport sadly,” mentioned Froome, who went down with about 5 kilometres to go because the sprinters’ groups jockeyed for place.
With grass stains on his proper shoulder and blood trickling down his proper arm from a gash on his elbow, Froome received again up and crossed 51 seconds behind Fernando Gaviria, the Colombian who claimed the race’s first yellow jersey with a commanding dash victory.
“I am simply grateful I am not injured in any manner and there is loads of street to cowl earlier than Paris clearly,” Froome mentioned.
Le Tour de France UK tweet: Chris Froome’s harsh crash seen from within the peloton. Fortunately, the reigning champion got back on his bike! #TDF2018
When followers on the end have been knowledgeable of Froome’s crash, many cheered. Froome, who was cleared of doping in an bronchial asthma drug case on Monday, was additionally jeered at Thursday’s group displays.
Froome was lucky he did not do extra harm by avoiding a put up close to the place he fell whereas using at greater than 50 kmh.
The Kenyan-born British rider additionally crashed on the opening day of the Giro d’Italia in Could, whereas warming up for the stage one time trial. However Froome ultimately climbed again up the standings to win the Giro — his third straight Grand Tour title.
Froome is now aiming to be part of Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain as the one riders to win the Tour 5 instances.
Fellow general contenders Richie Porte and Adam Yates have been additionally caught behind within the Froome group. And in what was anticipated to be a relaxed day for the favourites, two-time runner-up Nairo Quintana misplaced 1:10 when each of his tires have been punctured.
The pre-race favourites who completed safely with the primary pack included 2014 champion Vincenzo Nibali, Tom Dumoulin, Geraint Thomas, Mikel Landa, Alejandro Valverde and Dan Martin.
“It’s a tough end and simply the everyday combat between sprinters and GC guys. Everybody needs to be on the entrance, particularly forward of the 3K marker,” Sky sport director Nicolas Portal mentioned. “It is the traditional rigidity which is barely increased than the opposite Grand Excursions.”
When general or basic classification (GC) contenders attain the three kilometre from dwelling mark, they will calm down as a result of from there on within the outcomes are neutralised within the case of crashes.
Fernando Gaviria (R) timed his sprint perfectly to win the opening stage of the 2018 Tour de France. (AP/Amaury Sports Organisation)
Gaviria, the Fast-Step rider making his Tour debut, simply beat world champion Peter Sagan and Marcel Kittel to the road.
Le Tour de France UK tweet: An interesting start to @LeTour with a tense finale which saw @chrisfroome @TeamSky and @AdamYates7 @MitcheltonSCOTT lose over a minute to their GC rivals. #TDF2018
“The yellow jersey is one that everybody desires of carrying and to get it on the primary day is superb,” Gaviria mentioned.
Gaviria required four hours and 23 minutes to full the largely flat 201-kilometre stage from the island of Noirmoutier-en-l’Ile on the Atlantic coast to Fontenay-le-Comte.
The 23-year-old gained 4 phases in final yr’s Giro d’Italia and resides up to his billing as the subsequent massive factor in sprinting.
Accounting for time bonuses within the general standings, Froome trails Gaviria by 1:01 in 91st place.
Followers got here out in giant numbers for the 105th version of biking’s largest race, standing alongside almost each stretch of the route and waving the pink and white flags of the Vendee area.
The route was picturesque, but the peloton did not have time to appreciate it. (AP: Christophe Ena)
For a lot of the stage, the route hugged the shoreline alongside glowing waters, pristine seashores and an abundance of salt marshes.
Three French riders — Kevin Ledanois (Crew Fortuneo-Samsic), Jerome Cousin (Direct Energie) and Yoann Offredo (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) — attacked on the start flag and rapidly established a bonus of greater than a minute.
Cousin and Offredo, the final remnants of the breakaway, have been caught by the primary pack with 10 kilometres to go.
Lawson Craddock crashed in a feeding zone halfway by way of the stage and the American continued with blood streaming down his face.
The Tour stays within the Vendee area for stage two, one other flat leg of 182.5 kilometres from Mouilleron-Saint-Germain to the division capital of La Roche-sur-Yon.
The three-week Tour ends on July 29 in Paris.