Several falls took place, with Rowe’s teammates, Pavel Sivakov and Andrey Amador, both involved. Sivakov in fact fell twice before Tony Martin led the peloton towards neutralisation ahead of the second descent of the main climb on stage 1. However, Astana failed to heed Martin, or his colleagues, with Omar Fraile leading Astana off the descent at speed.
The acceleration was followed by Astana leader Miguel Angel Lopez, but the Colombian locked up his bike on one corner and skidded into a post at the side of the road. He was able to finish the stage, but it then took Primož Roglič to move up and speak to Fraile before Astana realised the error of their ways.
“I think that the problem is that it hasn’t rained here for two or three months, literally. Then you have one day when it rains and it was like ice. I think that most teams, at least half their teams, have touched down today. Luckily we passed it,” Rowe said at the finish.
“We had a couple of touchdowns but in general we came through. We’ve got this riders' organisation, or group, and there are a couple of guys from each team in there, and we spoke about it last night with how we’d approach the Tour de France in general, and look after each other and do the right thing when needed.
"Whilst you want to race and put on the best show, you could see how many crashes there were, and that was with the three descents at a very careful speed.
"I have to say 'chapeau' to the whole peloton, minus Astana to hit it down one climb, and as a result, their leader was left on his back. They made themselves look pretty stupid, but apart from them, chapeau to the whole peloton.”
Fraile defended his actions and those of his team when speaking with AS at the finish.
"I didn’t want to accelerate, I just wanted to set the pace. It was all very dangerous. If you touched the brakes, you hit the ground. I don’t have problems with the rain, but I braked and I fell. It was like riding on soap," he said of his own fall earlier in the stage.
“It was carnage. Eighty per cent of the peloton must have fallen. You looked around and everybody had torn kit.”
The stage was won by UAE Team Emirates' Alexander Kristoff, but there was another fall inside the final 3km, with pre-race favourite Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) coming down on his shoulder. He, too, was able to finish, as was Sivakov, who came over the line over 13 minutes down on the winner.
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