Tour de France – First Week

A summary of the First week of the 103rd Tour de France.

All 22 teams and 198 riders started the 103rd Tour de France in Mont-Saint-Michel.

Stage 1

Winner: Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data)

The stage started in Mont-Saint-Michel and finished at Utah Beach. The break of the day was made up of Paul Voss, Jan Barta (both Bora Argon 18), Leigh Howard (IAM Cycling), Anthony Delaplace (Fortuneo-Vital)  and America Alex Howes (Cannondale). Paul Voss took the first polka dot jersey of this years Tour. The first major incident of the stage was Alberto Contador’s crash which led to pretty impressive images of Contador receiving medical attention and changing his shoes, whilst in saddle. The stage came to conclussion with the predicted sprint finish. Mark Cavendish beat Marcel Kittel into second for the first time in his career to claim the Yellow jersey.

Stage 2

Winner: Peter Sagan (Tinkoff)

Peter Sagan was the favourite for stage 2 and the rainbow jersey wearer provided a performance to warrant it. The days break was made up of King of the mountain classification leader Paul Voss and Cesar Benedetti (both Bora Argon 18), Vegrad Breen (Fortuneo-Vital) and Jasper Stuyven (Trek). Jasper Stuyven claimed the polka dot jersey off Voss. Stuyven managed to hold off the peloton in the closing stages only to be caught 450 meters from the finish. Sagan had Roman Kreuziger to thank, after taking a huge turn to real in the escapé. Sagan beat Etixx Quickstep’s Julian Alaphilippe and Movistar’s Alejandro Valverede into second and third respectively. With Victory Sagan took the yellow jersey from Mark Cavendish, for the first time in his career. Another panicky day for the GC riders, with Contador crashing again, be it not as heavily as on stage one. Richie Porte’s misfortune in Grand Tours continues with suffering a flat tire in the final five kilometers. All the GC favourites finished within the bunch except for Vincenzo Nibali and Thibaut Pinot who are at 25 seconds, Alberto Contador who is at 1.02 and Richie Porte who is at 1.59 down on the GC. Despite the crashes all 198 riders finished stage two.

Stage 3

Winner: Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data)

At 223.5km, the stage from Granville to Angers is the second longest of this years Tour. Local rider, Armindo Fonseca (FVC) kept the tradition of a Fortuneo vital concept rider makign the break. Fonseca took the only KOM points available on the stage, although it did not effect Stuyven’s reign in the polka dot jersey. Thomas Voeckler joined him later on (strangely being awarded the most aggressive rider award). The pair held out until, before being swallowed up by the sprint teams. Mark Cavendish again timed his sprint to perfection, pipping Greipel on the line. The Dimension Data mini train of Eisel, Boassen Hagen and Renshaw did a terrific job against the trains of Lotto-Soudal and Etixx-Quickstepp. Frenchman Bryan Coquard joined Cav and Greipel on the podium. Sagan retained his Yellow jersey with a 4th place finish.

Stage 4

Winner: Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quickstepp)

The longest stage of the Tour at 237.5km. The stage took us from Saumur to Limoges. After a few early attacks, the break was formed. Markel Irizar (Trek), Olivier Naesen (IAM Cycling), Andreas Schilliner (Bora) and Alexis Gougeard (AG2r). There was only KOM point available on stage 4, which Irizar took, with teammate Stuyven remaining in the polka dot jersey. The sprint finish we all expected cam to fruition. Marcel Kittel got his stage win by a matter of millimeters, just pipping Bryan Coquard on the line. Peter Sagan finished 3rd therefore added a extra 4 seconds to his lead over the general classification. He also claimed the enough points to take the Green jersey back as well.

Stage 5

Winner: Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing)

Stage 5 took us from Limoges to Le Lioran and was a day scattered with six categorised climbs and one intermediate sprint. The days first break took off and was made up of Grivko (Astana), Majka (Tinkoff), Gautier (AG2R), Van Avermaet (BMC), Pauwels (Dimension Data), Huzarski (Bora), Sicard (Direct Energie), Vachon (FVC) and break away king De Gendt (Lotto Soudal). As the stage wore on the breaks communication and cooperation suffered a major break down, leading to Grivko, Van Avermaet and De Gendt to break away from the break-away. The trio covered a lot of the stage together, with the belgians later distancing the Astana rider Grivko. De Gendt amounted enough points to claim the King of the Mountains jersey. Stage 5 provided us with our first break-away victory at this years Tour. With 17km to go Greg Van Avermaet launched a solo attack to claim his second Tour de France stage victory and the Maillot Jaune, Taking a 5:11 lead over Julian Alaphilippe.

Stage 6

Winner: Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data)

With the distance of 190km on stage two and a predominately flat stage profile, everyone was expecting a bunch sprint before we headed off in to the more mountainous terrain. The day set off with Barta (Bora) and Arashiro (Lampré) escaapign the peloton with just 3km of road in and Barta and Arashiro covered 165km together at the front, before being being reigned in by the sprint teams and Team Sky. The pair picking up the few KOM points along the way but not enough to topple De Gendt’s Polka dot jersey reign. As the sprint teams took over, Team Dimension Data again delivered Mark Cavendish in a great position for him to take victory on the line beating Marcel Kittel into second. Cavendish claiming the green Jersey alongside his third victory on this years Tour (taking him to 29 career Tour stage victories). Daniel McClay of Fortuneo-Vital concept was the major surprise of stage 6, claiming his first grand tour podium alongside Cavendish and Kittel. Unsurprisingly Van Avermaet retained his 5:11 lead on the general classification.

Stage 7

Winner: Stephen Cummings (Team Dimension Data)

The stage wasn’t without drama, with constant attacks at the beginning of the race including Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan joing the earliest attack, before being brought back by Lotto Soudal and Etixx-Quickstepp. Once they were reeled in a huge breakaway was formed by, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing), Matti Breschel (Cannondale-Drapac), Jan Bakelants (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Borut Bozic (Cofidis), Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo), Sylvain Chavanel(Direct Énergie), Steve Cummings (Dimension Data), Antoine Duchesne (Direct Énergie), Kristijan Durasek (Lampre-Merida), Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin), Alex Howes (Cannondale-Drapac), Daryl Impey (Orica-BikeExchange), Gorka Izagirre(Movistar), Vasil Kiryienka (Team Sky), Sebastian Langeveld(Cannondale-Drapac), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Paul Martens(LottoNL-Jumbo), Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick Step), Luis Angel Maté(Cofidis), Oliver Naesen (IAM Cycling), Dani Navarro (Cofidis), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Pierre-Luc Périchon (Fortuneo-Vital Concept), Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Soudal), Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Angel Vicioso (Katusha), Paul Voss (Bora-Argon 18) and Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r-La Mondiale).  After a frantic start the stage settled down, until the break self exploded realising Nibali, Cummings, Navarro, Impey and Maillot Jaune holder Van Avermaet. Steve Cummings launched a solo attack on the ascent of Col D’Aspin. Taking Team Dimension Data and Great Britons 4th stage victory of this years Tour. The main GC group finished 4:29 behind Cummings, with Van Avermaet extending his lead over Alaphillipe at the top of the GC standings to 6:36. There was also drama with the flamme rougé deflating on passing riders causing some to crash including Adam Yates of OricaBIKEexchange. Surprisingly all 198 riders survived week one, including the suffering duo Sam Bennett (Bora) and Michael Morkøv (Team Katusha).

 

Winners of week one:

Mark Cavendish

Many questioned the Manx missile before this Tour. Myself included. How he proved us all wrong. Cav has dominated the flat stages, taking three stage victories and the green jersey in week one. I thought his training for the Olympics would of effected his preparation. Plus the power of the Etixx and Lotto Soudal sprinters and trains seemed unbeatable.

Dimmension Data

A great lead out for Cav has delivered 3 stage victories for the british rider on the flat stages but in the first mountain on the ascent of Col D’Aspin, Steve Cummings launched a trademark solo attack to claim the fourth stage win from a possible seven.

Dan McLay

The Fortuneo-Vital concept rider registered three top ten finishes included a first Tour podium alongside Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel on stage six.

British cycling

With seven possible stage victories, British riders took four of the seven. Mark Cavendish opened the tour with victory on Utah beach for stage one. Cav sprinted to another two stage victories whilst Steve Cummings was the first up and down the Col D’Aspin to take stage seven.

Losers of week one:

Alberto Contador, Richie Porte, Thibaut Pinot, Adam Yates, Vincenzo Nibali.

All would of wanted to survive the first week to stage in touch of general classification. Due to crashes, mis-timed flat tyres, deflating flamme rouges (see stage seven review above) and not having the legs. They have all lost touch with the favourites and will take a huge effort to get back in touch with Quintana and co.

Andre Greipel

Cav has dominated the sprints although Marcel Kittel has claimed one stage victory. Lotto Soudal has done so much work bring back breaks and leading out sprints but for a number of reasons Andre hasn’t been able to deliver.

Sam Bennett and Michael Morkøv

Since stage these two have suffered. Bennett would of been looking forward to the chance to test himself against the likes of Cavendish, Kittel and Greipel.  The pair have battled bravely against the time limits and the natural urge to stop to continue, winning greats amounts of praise from the fans. I would be amazed to see them both finish the Champs-Élysées.

Week two predictions:

The GC battle commences, well now the battle between Chris Froome and his team of elites at Team Sky and Nairo Quintana. In my opinion Nairo Quintana is the stronger rider for this years Tour profile, although Team Sky have the team to cope with any attacks and accelerations. Stage 13 will be a big contest to see how much time Froome can put into/claim back from Quintana on the 37km time trial. The King of the Mountain classification could also ignite with riders such as Nibali/Majka losing lots of time in the first week. Expect Peter Sagan to keep the green jersey throughout the remaining of the tour, baring him crashing out.

Predictions:

Now we have completed week one it is safe to start to speculate the overall winner of this years Tour. see my guess below.

  1. Froome (Team Sky)
  2. Quintana (Movistar)
  3. Aru (Astana)

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