Search

Tour de France Column by Toby Miles - Chaos of the first week

PUBLISHED: 09:42 12 July 2018 | UPDATED: 09:42 12 July 2018

Cycling columnist Toby Miles in competitive action on the continent

Cycling columnist Toby Miles in competitive action on the continent

Archant

Read Toby Miles’ Malliot Blanc Column as the 18-year-old aspiring professional cyclist unpicks the chaos of the Tour de France’s opening week.

Quick Step Floors's Fernando Gaviria celebrates winning stage one of the Tour de France. Picture: Pete Goding/PAQuick Step Floors's Fernando Gaviria celebrates winning stage one of the Tour de France. Picture: Pete Goding/PA

The Tour de France’s opening sprint stage has a reputation for pile-ups – as the 176-strong field plunged into the final 10-miles of Stage One in cycling’s premier event, pressure was at a season high on Saturday.

This year’s day one sprint – with a precious victory and prestigious yellow jersey waiting for the winner – isn’t far behind Stage 21, the final stage down the Champs Elysees, in prestige.

General classification teams join the fight for the front – aiming to keep their leaders safe – meaning the factors are in place for a dangerous finale.

Lawson Craddock was first to slip away as the tempo increased. The American finally lost contact after 50-miles clinging to the rear of the peloton, after colliding with a spectator.

Quick Step Floors's Fernando Gaviria celebrates on the podium after taking the yellow jersey and winning stage one of the Tour de France. Picture: Pete Goding/PAQuick Step Floors's Fernando Gaviria celebrates on the podium after taking the yellow jersey and winning stage one of the Tour de France. Picture: Pete Goding/PA

With slanted shoulders and blood gushing from his left eyebrow, Craddock battled to finish, long after the TV cameras had turned away – earning another day nursing his fractured shoulder-blade through the French heat.

The Tour’s famous drama unfolded with the first mass pile-up, caused by a FDJ rider clipping the wheel in front as I spotted Richie Porte picking his way through the fallen bodies and bikes.

With sprint lead-outs at full speed, Porte had no hope of re-joining the bunch. TV coverage kept tabs on the BMC man, as he scrambled to limit losses.

The early breakaway, forgotten since the crash, was inevitably caught with fewer than four miles to go. Jerome Cousin and Guillaume Martin’s had just enough time to fist-bump before the peloton absorbed them.

Chris Froome of Team Sky rides to the stage during the team presentations in Place Napoleon, La Roche-Sur-Lyon, France. Picture: PAChris Froome of Team Sky rides to the stage during the team presentations in Place Napoleon, La Roche-Sur-Lyon, France. Picture: PA

More drama. Chris Froome, who’s faced boos from spectators – apparently unaware of his exoneration – tussled to locate his teammates at the front, when he took a risk, sprinting for a slither of road on the outside.

Marcel Kittel slid across Froome who bumped off the burly German’s right shoulder and into a farmer’s field.

As many Tour favourites chased in vain behind, Quick-Step Floors provided a masterclass.

Inside the final kilometer, with five teammates still in front of Fernando Gaviria - who had been seen shaking with terror before the start of his debut Tour - Quick-Step dominated, delivering the Columbian to the finish, as he held off Peter Sagan.

The chaos will continue until the first mountain on Stage 10. Momentum’s vital in Tour sprints, and the winner of the opener has invariably been the dominant fastman.

I expect Gavaria to continue the trend.

I’d predicted Dylan Groenewegen to be the man to beat this year but his team can’t dream of challenging Gavaria’s. I’d still pick the LottoNL-Jumbo man for a win before the Tour’s end, as the new generation overhaul the old guard of Greipel and Cavendish.

Meanwhile, the yellow jersey contenders are in survival mode. Geraint Thomas is in pole position ahead of Stage Nine’s cobbles, which present an opportunity to gain more time. Could the Welshman finally get a clean run to contest Tour victory? He’s got the form.

Latest Hampstead & Highgate Sports News

Yesterday, 23:26

Arsenal boss Unai Emery has been left frustrated after the Gunners conceded two late goals in his sides 4-2 victory over FC Vorskla Poltava.

Yesterday, 21:58

Arsenal began their Europa League journey with a dominant 4-2 win over FC Vorskla Poltava on Thursday night.

Yesterday, 21:53

Arsenal hosted Vorskla Poltava in their opening match in Group E of the Europa League at the Emirates on Thursday evening. Read on for Layth Yousif’s PLAYER RATINGS

Yesterday, 20:02

Middlesex all-rounder James Harris hopes his side can go on and complete victory over Derbyshire on day four of the County Championship Division Two match at Lord’s on Friday.

Yesterday, 17:00

Old Boys won 35-29 at Hendon last weekend

Yesterday, 16:00

Greens lost 3-2 at Harrow Borough in London Senior Cup on Tuesday after beating Poole Town 1-0 in Evo-Stik South Premier South last weekend

Yesterday, 14:00

The England international appears to have recovered from his hamstring injury

Yesterday, 12:00

Greelands Lane club lost at home to UCS Old Boys last weekend

PROMOTED CONTENT

Looking to get your child interested in a sport? Allianz Park, home to rugby union team Saracens, welcomes people of all ages to join their family of supporters and discover how their core values Honesty, Discipline, Humility and Work Rate underpin everything they do off and on the pitch.

As part of a major refurb, the London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale has renamed its three new-look function rooms to reflect the geography and rich history of the area. The largest, perfect for weddings and large meetings, is named after a Hampstead subterranean river, The Westbourne.

Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate sport

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now