Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) took a well-deserved stage win and the yellow jersey on stage 1 of the Tour de France after attacking on the final climb of the Côte de la Fosse aux Loups and holding off the remnants of the peloton on a day that was overshadowed by two major crashes and major time losses for several overall contenders.
The world champion attacked with 2.3km to go on the stage and soloed clear despite resistance from both Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) and Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates).
Last year’s winner and runner up were unable to match Alaphilippe’s pace and even when the road evened out the Frenchman had enough in the tank to take the win, despite being a crash victim earlier in the day, with Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) and Roglic rounding out the top three on the stage.
Alaphilippe was perfectly set up on the climb by his teammates with the Belgian team leading the Frenchman to the lower slopes of the short but final ascent. His anticipated attack quickly gained the world champion all the time he needed with Wout Van Aert – second wheel at the time – simply unable to respond.
When Roglic and and Pogcar’s brief counter was reeled in, Alaphilippe maintained his advantage all the way to the line but the devastating effects from the two crashes – one of which was caused by a spectator – overshadowed the stage and had severely affected the overall standings.
How it unfolded
After all the pre-race hype, new sponsor announcements, and the unveiling of new kits the Tour de France finally swung into gear with the 2021 peloton rolling out from Brest to Landerneau. Ahead of them, a 198km stage that included six small but categorized climbs. With the Côte de Trébéolin, Côte de Rosnoën, Côte de Locronan, Côte de Stang Ar Garront, Côte de Saint-Rivoal and Côte de la Fosse aux Loups on the menu. After a long and winding neutralized zone, and flurry of attacks, five riders managed to break free from the peloton with Franck Bonnamour (B&B Hotels p/b KTM), Cristian Rodriguez (Team TotalEnergies), Danny van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty) joined by Anthony Perez (Cofidis) and Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe) going clear.
Connor Swift (Arkéa-Samsic) made it a sextet a few kilometres later before the peloton duly sat up and allowed the leaders to build something close to a healthy buffer. They say the only certainties in life are taxes and death but add the sight of Tim Declercq controlling the pace of the peloton after a break has formed to that list. One day one of this year’s Tour de France and already the Belgian rider has created his blueprint for the next three weeks of racing but he had assistance on this occasion with Alpecin Fenix offering Petr Vakoc to help control the stage.
The leaders up front worked well together but with a yellow jersey as well as a stage up for grabs their efforts were purely based around generating air-time and ensuring that their teammates had easy days back in the bunch. The gap never crept higher than a handful of minutes and with 100km remaining the Vakoc- Declercq tandem had the break at just under two minutes.
On the Côte de Stang ar Garront, Schelling broke the alliance that had been established within the break with a strong attack, just as Casper Pedersen was among three riders who hit the deck. Not only did Schelling take the points at the top of the climb, but he also pushed on and quickly put 2:23 between himself and the rest of the break. His departure effectively killed the break with the five riders reeled in with just over 66km to go.
While the lone Bora rider snaffled up maximum points at the intermediate sprint at Brasparts, the following battle behind him was the first time in this year’s race that the true contenders for the Green jersey with Caleb Ewan brushing aside Peter Sagan and Michael Matthews – the last two men in the race to win the competition. That injection of pace brought Ineos Grenadiers and Jumbo-Visma to the front, with Schelling’s gap dropping to two minutes with 58km to go.
The stage looked relatively calm until, with 45km to go, the race was entirely turned on its head when a spectator stepped into the road holding a sign. Tony Martin had nowhere to go and fell, sparking a mass crash that saw Roglic, Van Aert and almost all of Jumbo-Visma hit the deck. Miguel Angel Lopez, Chris Froome, Sonny Colbrelli and dozens of others were held up, with the bunch briefly neutralizing the race as riders were allowed to return with 30km to go.
Schelling was caught soon after the aftershocks from the crash would have an effect on the race well beyond stage 1.
More to come!
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep||4:39:05|
|2||Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange||0:00:08|
|3||Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma|
|4||Jack Haig (Aus) Bahrain Victorious|
|5||Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|6||Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates|
|7||David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ|
|8||Sergio Higuita Garcia (Col) EF Education-Nippo|
|9||Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo|
|10||Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers|
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep||4:38:55|
|2||Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange||0:00:12|
|3||Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma||0:00:14|