The first stage of the Tour de France began with a flat stage for the sprinters. EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale lined up with a clear objective for the stage, described by sport director Tom Southam as “stay calm, stay out of trouble and try to stay as relaxed as possible.”
It was mission accomplished in most senses with Rigoberto Uran part of a 63-rider group that finished on the same time as stage winner Fernado Gaviria (QuickStep – Floors). Taylor Phinney guided the Colombian to the finish line in Fontenay-le-Comte.
“It was exactly as predicted – for once!,” said Southam. “The lack of wind meant that it was a pretty calm day. Of course the speed was still high being stage one of the Tour, but for the major part no worries. Good solid team performance by our guys.”
Other teams with general classification ambitions were not quite as lucky. A series of crashes in the final 10km saw Chris Froome, Egan Bernal and Wout Poels (Team Sky), Richie Porte (BMC) and Adam Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) lose time. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) suffered a mechanical just outside the three kilometer mark that cost him 1’12.
“These easy days are a nightmare when it comes to the final as everyone is quite fresh, particularly on the first days. You see a lot of people taking risks to be at the front. I was aware that would be an issue today,” said road captain Simon Clarke. “The boys really worked well together to keep Rigo covered, not only covered but riding in a safe position, in a safe way. Quite a lot of those crashes happened right in front of us but because of the way we were riding as a unit, we were able to avoid all of them and keep Rigo in the front. Hats off to all the boys for their great commitment and solid execution. The result today is really a win for the team, seeing the guys that got caught up and got left behind.”
Uran just gained almost as much time on Froome as he lost the Tour by last year.
— Caley Fretz (@CaleyFretz) July 7, 2018
Lawson Craddock was among the fallers, but the American crashed well before the finish. When a dropped bottle in the feed zone forced him off the road and into a spectator, Craddock sustained a laceration that required several sutures in his lefteyebrow and a small fracture along the spine of his left scapula.
“Right now it’s extremely painful,” said Craddock. “It was really painful out on the road just trying to manage it as best I could. I got incredible support from the team to help me to the finish.”
— NBCSN Cycling (@NBCSNCycling) July 7, 2018
“I’m so gutted for Lawson,” said Clarke. “We did all the preparation together for this Tour de France, all the altitude training together. Not only am I rooming with him here at the Tour but we’ve been living and training together for the last month or so. To have this happen to him, I really felt bad for him. I dropped back to give him some word of motivation and support. I encouraged him to get to the finish, cross the finish line and then we could assess after that, figure out how bad the damage is.”
— EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale (@Ride_Argyle) July 7, 2018
“It’s difficult. A lot of work goes into these races, especially the Tour,” Craddock said “Mentally it’s almost harder than physically. I’ll try to stay positive, manage the pain as hard as I can. I’m not just going home at the first sign of adversity, so I’ll see how I feel tonight, how I sleep, how I feel in the morning and get on the bike and see if I can manage it.”
Visit ProCyclingStats for complete stage one results.