What ensued was far better, with 3 hours, 22 minutes and 43 seconds of bike racing at it's best, and Arnaud Demare coming away with a worthy stage win and the first leader's yellow jersey in this year's race.
"The conditions were tough and we were flat out with the echelons. I expected attacks from Julian Alaphilippe, Philippe Gilbert and Tony Gallopin, so I tried to follow. The climb at the end wasn't too long and that helped. I think there was general fatigue out there, and I had fantastic support out there with guys around me in the break. It's better than being alone and it helps both physically and psychologically.