Fernando Gaviria today produced a perfect sprint on the uphill drag to Fontenay-Le-Comte to win the opening stage of the Tour de France and don the first yellow jersey, after his Quick-Step Floors team helped to chase and reel in the breakaway, and then set up the sprint of the 23-year-old debutant.
“It’s incredible, I don’t have enough words to tell you how I feel on this amazing day,” said Gaviria. “I was thinking of the victory, but to take also the yellow jersey was a dream, a dream which I turned into reality thanks to the beautiful work of all my teammates, who rode their heart out for me and made sure of bringing me into the best position for the final. That’s why this win isn’t just mine, is of the entire team.”
The 201km-long stage which rolled out from Noirmoutier-en-l’Île was a quiet one until the last ten kilometres, when just moments after the three escapees – Kévin Ledanois (Fortuneo-Samsic), Yoann Offredo (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Jérôme Cousin (Direct Energie) – got caught, everything blew up due to a crash which splintered the peloton, leaving only 70 riders in the front. Amongst those caught out behind were Chris Froome (Team Sky), Richie Porte (BMC Racing) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team).
The drama continued, as other riders crashed or punctured out of the group, which was led by Niki Terpstra and Philippe Gilbert, who put down the hammer, stretching out the field.
Liège–Bastogne–Liège winner Bob Jungels led under the flamme rouge, before Belgian Champion Yves Lampaert upped the tempo as he dived into the last corner, with 750 meters to go. Once Lampaert peeled off the front, Max Richeze launched Fernando Gaviria, who held off the charge of Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) and Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) to take the most important victory of his career so far.
“Being the first stage of the Tour de France it was pretty stressful, but the guys perfectly organized themselves, kept me protected and overcome all the obstacles, be it crosswinds or roundabouts, which came thick and fast in the final kilometres. It was thanks to their work and the strong legs I had that I could beat two strong riders and take a yellow jersey Colombia had been waiting for 15 years.”
“I don’t know for how long we will keep the yellow jersey in the team, for now all we want is to enjoy this beautiful moment, continue taking it day by day and see how things unfold. It’s true that I also scored important points today, but I’m not thinking of the green jersey, it’s still too early for that. It’s a proud and happy day of my life, which motivates me even more for the upcoming stages,” concluded Gaviria.