Elia Viviani and the Deceuninck-QuickStep team had been dreaming of a far better result in the opening sprint of the Tour de France in Brussels. The Belgian team wanted to add another prestigious win to their season tally and wanted to pull on the first yellow jersey of the race in their capital city. But a shuffle in the peloton in the final kilometres cost them dear, derailed their lead-out train and meant that Viviani could only finish ninth, well down on surprise winner Mike Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma).
Deceuninck-QuickStep helped Viviani bounce back and rebuild his moral after the frustrations of the Giro d'Italia. They selected as strong team to protect him and lead him out but in a split second his chances were lost. Viviani lost the wheel of his lead-out train and so had to fight single-handedly for position.
Michael Morkov and Max Richeze could be seen on the front in the final 500 metres in their respective red Danish national champion's jersey and the Argentinean white and sky blue jersey, but Viviani's dark blue Deceuninck-QuickStep jersey was much further back.
"I lost my guys in the last two kilometres and ended up in the scrum of other riders," Viviani explained calmly post stage but hugely disappointed.
"I was on Max's wheel but in a chicane some riders got between us and I lost a few positions. I saw a gap in the final metres but used up my sprint to get back to a good position. I was on Sagan's wheel when the sprint started but I sat in the saddle. I could have done better but then touched Ewan slightly and so finished ninth.
"I am sad, because the guys again did a perfect job and I couldn't finish it off. But if someone beats us we have to congratulate them, we can't say anything about it and we can only keep trying over the next days."
More chances in the TTT and stage 3
Viviani's chance of victory and the yellow jersey have gone but Deceuninck-QuickStep are still hungry for success and believe they can win Sunday's team time trial and even Monday's third stage to Epernay, in the heart of France's champagne region.
The 215km road stage ends with a fast, twisting uphill finish in Epernay, with Julian Alaphilippe set to be when Deceuninck-QuickStep's protected rider rather than Viviani.
"These are three really important days for us, not just one" Viviani pointed out.
"The TTT is a big one for us and we know we can perhaps take yellow and we have the experience in the event. The guys have studied stage 3 and it is perfect for Julian, so we can really make our Tour de France special in the open three days. All is not lost after stage 1."