Britain’s Chris Froome crashed during the opening stage of the Tour de France as his quest to win a record-equalling fifth title began with a scare.
The defending champion careered off the road on a left-hand bend in the closing stages but was quickly back racing.
Froome finished 61 seconds behind stage winner Fernando Gaviria and several of his rivals for the overall victory but alongside fellow Briton Adam Yates.
«I’ve not been checked by the team doctor but I feel fine,» said Froome.
«I’m OK, we saw a lot of crashes out there but we knew the first few days were going to be tricky.
«We were at the front of the peloton so there was not much more the guys could’ve done — it was just chaotic with the sprinters up there.
«I’m just grateful I’m not injured in any way and there is plenty of racing left to Paris.»
A chaotic finish to a benign stage
Stage one had been going to script with three riders breaking clear as soon as the 201km race started in Noirmoutier-en-L’Ile, allowing the peloton to ease into the three-week race.
Jerome Cousin, Kevin Ledanois and Yoann Offredo built up a lead of around four minutes before they were gradually reeled back as the teams of the sprinters gathered at the front of the peloton, each knowing that whoever won the stage would claim the yellow jersey.
But that is where the script was ripped up.
A crash with just over 10km remaining splintered the peloton, with French hope for the stage win, Arnaud Demare, among those delayed.
Froome’s rivals for the overall win, Richie Porte and Yates, were also caught up and looked set to lose time on the Team Sky rider.
But a couple of kilometres later Froome had nowhere to go but off the road as the peloton negotiated a left-hand bend. He rejoined the race within seconds, a scuff mark on the right shoulder of his jersey.
He eventually crossed the finish line, with Yates and Porte among others, 51 seconds behind Gaviria, who also picked up 10 bonus seconds.
Gaviria’s fellow Colombian Nairo Quintana, another general classification rival of Froome’s, avoided the crashes but had a puncture with 3.5km remaining that saw him lose 24 seconds.
More to follow.