The first road stage of the Tour de France was marred by a crash in the final 30km which brought down multiple race favourites before a regrouping saw Marcel Kittel (Quickstep-Floors) take the win.
The peloton travelled from Germany to Belgium on stage 2 of the Tour de France, where they faced cold and rain for the majority of the stage.
As soon as the peloton reached KM 0 in Dusseldorf, four riders attacked and quickly formed the breakaway of the day. Back in the peloton, Porte’s BMC Racing Team teammates kept him safely tucked away at the front of the bunch.
The sprinters’ teams, eyeing the first sprint opportunity of the race, kept the breakaway’s advantage to within three minutes and as they approached 50km to go, the gap was less than two minutes.
As heavy rain continued to fall, the breakaway tried to maintain their position but with 38km remaining, the advantage fell to under one minute.
A huge crash with 30km to go brought down half the peloton, including Porte, Stefan Küng and Michael Schär. Porte was able to get up quickly and resume racing while behind, Caruso was forced to chase back and Schär was left waiting for a new bike.
The peloton slowed down in the nervous aftermath of the crash to allow riders to chase back, and in doing so enabled the breakaway to maintain their advantage.
With 10km to go, it was just Taylor Phinney (Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team) and Yoann Offredo (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) who were left in front.
The duo forged on but were ultimately caught with 2km to go to set the stage for the first bunch sprint of the race won by Kittel.
Porte crossed the line safely as did Küng, who maintains second overall and his Best Young Rider jersey.
BMC Racing Team Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Max Testa will monitor the riders involved in the crash and an update will be provided if necessary.
Quotes from the Finish Line
“I came out of the crash ok but there were a few guys that went down a lot harder. It was a stressful day. It was the first real stage of the Tour and then you get the rain, then it dries up, and then starts raining again. It was a nice one to come through and it’s nice to get the first crash out of the way and get on with it. Hopefully my knee is ok, I have a little bit of a bang on that, but I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
“I think it was more of a grey jersey by the end of the stage rather than a white jersey. It was the first real road stage of my Tour de France career so it was quite special. There were a lot of people on the side of the road which was amazing. It was also pretty hectic. With all of the people and the rain, it was difficult for everyone. So, everyone wanted to be up there. We tried to get through as safe as possible. The crash happened but this is something that happens and it was good that no one was too hurt. If we had keep going like that without the crash, it would have been a perfect day for us.”
Fabio Baldato, Sports Director:
“We know that the first stages of the Tour de France are always nervous. Today, we also had the rain which made things difficult. We got through it. Of course, you always need to be attentive and anything can happen. You saw the crash. It was at a roundabout and with the rain everybody wanted to stay at the front. We made it to the finish without a lot of trouble. We will look tonight but I hope there is nothing serious.”