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The peloton is assembling in Place Masséna in Nice for the start of stage 1 of the most unusual edition of the Tour de France. Two months later than billed, the Tour sets off from Nice and all of the usual excitement at the Grand Départ is tempered by a sense of unease. With the number of confirmed coronavirus cases rising sharply in France, it is not at all certain that this race will make it all the way to Paris on September 20. While professional cycling at large has been eager – desperate, in fact – for the 2020 Tour to go ahead, it is unclear whether it really should. But, for now at least, the great bike race is on. The neutralised start of today's stage is at 14.00 local time, when the peloton due to reach kilometre zero at 14.15.

They used to say that Charles De Gaulle was president of France for eleven months of the year, but Jacques Goddet was president for the month of July. In this September Tour, there are no doubts about the division of power between the state and the Tour. Christian Prudhomme is race director and nothing more. After 7,379 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in France yesterday, the French government's inter-ministerial crisis unit ordered the Tour to restore its 'two strikes, team out policy', which means that whole teams will be excluded from the race if any two members of their riders or staff test positive for COVID-19 within the same seven-day period. “We remain with two cases out of 30 people in the same team over a period of seven days,” Prudhomme told AFP on Saturday, adding that the decision “had been taken by the inter-ministerial crisis unit.” Read more here.

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme wearing a face mask arrives for a press conference to present sanitary measures over the COVID19 novel coronavirus pandemic put in place for the start of the 107th edition of the Tour De France cycling race in the French Riviera city of Nice on August 19 2020 The 2020 edition of the Tour de France kicks off in Nice on August 29 and runs to September 20 postponed from June 27 to July 19 due to the coronavirus pandemic Photo by Valery HACHE AFP Photo by VALERY HACHEAFP via Getty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Today's 156km opening stage comprises of three loops in the hinterland of Nice and includes two ascents of the category 3 Côte de Rimiez (5.38km at 5.1%) after 48km and 105km, but we can expect the sprinters to fight it out for the first maillot jaune on the Promenade des Anglais.

Sam Bennett is among the contenders for the first maillot jaune of this Tour. He would become the first Irishman since Stephen Roche in 1987 to wear the yellow jersey, and the fourth in history after Shay Elliot (1963) and Sean Kelly (1983) if he is first across the line this afternoon. Speaking in Nice this week, Bennett's mind was on more recent history - namely the successes of former QuickStep sprinters like Marcel Kittel, Mark Cavendish, Fernando Gaviria and Elia Viviani on the Tour. "I don't want to be the first sprinter in QuickStep's history who can't win in the Tour. That's the pressure I feel," Bennett admitted. Stephen Farrand has the full story here.

NICE FRANCE AUGUST 27 Sam Bennett of Ireland and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Specialized bike during the Team Deceuninck QuickStep Training TDF2020 LeTour on August 27 2020 in Nice France Photo by Michael SteeleGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Another likely contender this afternoon is Caleb Ewan, though the Lotto Soudal man warned that the sprinters might have to battle their way back on after the race tackles the hills around Nice. "I think the benefit for the sprinters is there is a lot of time to come back even if you do get dropped on the climb," Ewan said. "There is a lot of time to come back in the valley, and usually at this time of year in the valley, there's a headwind, so that also makes it a bit easier to come back." Read more here.

Lotto Soudal’s Caleb Ewan wins stage 4 of the 2020 Tour Down Under ahead of Irish road race champion Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep). Both riders will be among the favourites for the sprinter-friendly 2020 Milano-Torino

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Had the current coronavirus 'two strikes' rule been in place all week, incidentally, Ewan and his Lotto Soudal team might not have been permitted to take the start. Two staff members from the Belgian squad tested positive for COVID-19 (or 'non-negative' to use the team's parlance) during the week and both they and their roommates were sent home. At that point, the 'two strikes' rule had been - temporarily, as it turned out - adapted so that only two positive cases among riders (rather than the entire 'bubble' of riders and staff) could force a team out of the Tour.

There has already been racing in Nice this morning, by the way. Lizze Deignan underlined his form by beating Marianne Vos to the line in a keenly-contested sprint at La Course. Read more here.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The morning's other news concerns Deceuninck-QuickStep, who have decried the UCI's decision to order a CADF investigation into the contents of Remco Evenepoel's pockets at Il Lombardia. The team insists that directeur sportif Davide Bramati removed "a small bottle containing nutrition products" from Evenepoel's pocket following his crash "in order to help him to be placed more comfortably by medical staff on the stretcher." 

It seems that the UCI ordered to inquiry to check if the item removed was a data-transmitting device. "The directeur sportif said he thought Evenepoel had fallen as no more data was being sent," UCI president David Lappartient said. "What data are we talking about then? After all, it is forbidden to send certain data. So, we are also looking at that point. If it is only about geographical position then it's something else, but sharing other data is not allowed." 

Manager Patrick Lefevere, meanwhile, was highly critical of the UCI/CADF investigation in his weekly column for Het Nieuwsblad. Stephen Farrand has more here.

Il Lombardia 2020 114th Edition Bergamo Como 231 km 14082020 Remco Evenepoel BEL Deceuninck Quick Step photo Luca BettiniBettiniPhoto2020

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The peloton has rolled out from the start and is making its way through the line neutralised zone beneath overcast skies in Nice, with sparse, masked crowds watching them go by. The 2020 Tour de France is about to begin.

This is a neutralised zone of almost Vuelta a Espana-dimensions as the peloton climb out of Nice. There are still two kilometre of neutralised riding remaining.

Once the flag drops, the road continues climbing for 8km towards Aspremont, and we can surely expect a flurry of early attacks ahead of the more rugged terrain in the middle of the stage.

-156km

Christian Prudhomme waves the flag and the rescheduled 2020 Tour de France is formally underway.

CCC-Liv, Total-Direct Energie and B&B Hotels-Vital Concept are immediately on the offensive within seconds of the start, and it looks as though our early break has formed without any kind of a struggle.

Michael Schar (CCC Team), Cyril Gautier (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) and Fabien Grellier (Total-Direct Energie) clipped away as soon as the flag dropped, and this trio has immediately established a gap over a peloton that seems more than happy to leave them to it.

-154km

The bunch spreads across the road and our three escapees stretch their lead out to 50 seconds.

This is Gautier's first Tour appearance since 2017. His team wasn't invited in 2019 and he wasn't selected in his final season with AG2R in 2018. The experienced Breton had previously raced eight Tours in succession, from 2010 to 2017.

-150km

Break:

Michael Schär (CCC Team), Cyril Gautier (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) and Fabien Grellier (Total-Direct Energie)

Peloton at 2:00

Some drops of rain are beginning to fall over the race, and this stage could take on a rather different complexion if it ends up being raced on wet roads.

-146km

The break's lead appears to have stablised for the time being at two minutes, as Kasper Asgreen takes up the reins at the head of the peloton for Deceuninck-QuickStep. A big delegation from Jumbo-Visma is also visible near the front of the bunch ahead of the descent towards Carros.

Egan Bernal (Ineos) and Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) have taken care to placem themselves near the head of affairs on this twisting early descent, though, mercifully, the peloton is not tackling the hairpins with any particular intensity.

-141km

Gautier, Schär and Grellier's lead has dropped slightly to 1:36. Gautier is the man pushing on the pace on this long, sinuous descent. Asgreen is still leading the way in the bunch.

-139km

Break:

Michael Schär (CCC Team), Cyril Gautier (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) and Fabien Grellier (Total-Direct Energie)

Peloton at 2:07

The on-form Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) and Fernandro Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) are high-profile absentees, as is Mark Cavendish (Bahrain-McLaren), but there is still a long, long list of contenders for the first yellow jersey of the Tour should the race come down to a bunch sprint this afternoon.

As well as Ewan and Bennett, the fast men in the peloton include Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-McLaren), Matteo Trentin (CCC), Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates), André Greipel (Israel Start-Up Nation), Cees Bol (Sunweb), Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) and European champion Giacomo Nizzolo (NTT Pro Cycling). And, if team duties allow, Milan-San Remo winner Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) might also involve himself in the contest. The team took yellow the corresponding stage a year ago, remember, when Mike Teunissen emerged from a chaotic sprint finish in Brussels.

-135km

A shade over 20km into the stage, the three escapees have extended their buffer to 2:40 over the peloton.

Situation

Break:

Michael Schär (CCC Team), Cyril Gautier (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) and Fabien Grellier (Total-Direct Energie)

Peloton at 2:45

The rain is now falling steadily over the Tour de France, which might make the descent of the Côte de Rimiez rather treacherous later on. The temperature, meanwhile, is a pleasant 25°C.

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) told Eurosport (or at least, the television pool in the mixed zone at the start) that his hopes of contesting the sprint were dependent on team duties. "I will see in the final, it all depends on the race circumstances. If it’s controlled and Tony [Martin] and Amund [Grøndahl Jansen] are there for Primoz and Tom to keep them out of danger, then I can go for the sprint. But it really depends on how the race goes in the climbs. I think there will be tricky descents and it will be nervous. And maybe I have to work already there to keep Tom and Primoz in position. This is our priority."

Milano Sanremo 2020 - 111th Edition - Milano - Sanremo 305 km - 08/08/2020 - - photo POOL Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2020

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

-127km

Deceuninck-QuickStep and Lotto Soudal have struck up a working alliance at the head of the peloton. They are combining to keep tabs on the break's lead and the gap is currently standing at an imminently manageable 2:30. 

The rain has abated for the time being and the sun is once again threatening to poke through the clouds, even if the sky remains a rather menacing shade of grey.

-123km

The break's lead drops a little further, to 2:10. So far, the pattern is very much in keeping with what we've tended to see on flat days on the Tour ever since we've had live television pictures from start to finish on every stage. A break composed of Pro Continental teams and a WorldTour squad seeking a sponsor went clear without any struggle as soon as the flag dropped and now the sprinters' teams are combining to keep the escapees on a very tight leash. 

So far, so routine, but today's parcours includes enough rugged terrain for some ad libs to the set script. We expect a bunch finish at day's end, but the fast men will surely have to withstand some attacking on the succession of hills with 50km or so remaining.

-117km

The first crash of the 2020 Tour comes just as the race is approaching the finish line on the Promenade des Anglais for the first time. Sam Bennett was among the riders caught up in the incident, but the Irishman doesn't seem to be hurt, though he has needed a wheel change.

Domenico Pozzovivo (NTT) was also among the fallers, but it appears that all riders involved have remounted and are in the process of rejoining the peloton. 

-115km

The bunch crosses the finish line on the Promenade des Anglais for the first time 2:28 down on the three escapees, Michael Schär (CCC Team), Cyril Gautier (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) and Fabien Grellier (Total-Direct Energie).

-112km

The escapees are on the category 3 climb of the Côte de Rimiez (5.8km at 5.1%), the first classified ascent of this Tour. The riders already had a sight of this ascent during the neutralised zone, now they get to do it for keeps.

Miguel Angel Lopez is chasing back to the rear of the bunch with a delegation from his Astana team. We didn't see the Colombian go down in the crash but it appears as though he had to stop for a bike change. Lopez is safely back on, as is Sam Bennett. 

The break covered 43.8km in the opening hour of racing. They are now a little 2km from the top of the first climb of the 2020 Tour, and we can expect a skirmish for the king of the mountains points between Gautier, Grellier and Schar.

Pozzovivo took a while to make it back up to the peloton after the crash but the Italian is now safely back on board. 

-109km

Break:

Michael Schär (CCC Team), Cyril Gautier (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) and Fabien Grellier (Total-Direct Energie)

Peloton at 1:57

-107km

Fabien Grellier (Total-Direct Energie) produces a Saronni-esque fucilata to burst past his companions atop the Côte de Rimiez. He pips Gautier to the top to take the first points in the king of the mountains and a provisional hold of the polka dot jersey. They'll come back and tackle this climb again with 59km to go.

The break's lead is down to 1:40 over the peloton, where Bora-Hansgrohe and Jumbo-Visma are now prominent. Caleb Ewan seemed to lose contact briefly at the top of the climb, though it may simply have been that the Australian was dropping back through the bunch on the ascent to save his legs ahead of an eventual sprint, in the manner of Mark Cavendish at the 2011 Worlds.

Tim Declercq (Deceuninck-QuickStep) takes up his familiar position at the head of the peloton. The Belgian sets the tempo on behalf of his sprinter Sam Bennett as rain begins to fall once again over the Tour.

-104km

Another crash in the peloton over the other side of the climb on these slippery roads, and the fallers include Pavel Sivakov (Ineos), Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R La Mondiale) and at least two Cofidis riders.

Sivakov is pedalling very, very gingerly indeed, though his slow pace looks to be due to a flat rear tyre rather than any injury sustained in the crash. Even so, Cosnefroy taps him on the back out of concern as he rides past the Russian on the way back to the peloton.

-102km

Break:

Michael Schär (CCC Team), Cyril Gautier (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) and Fabien Grellier (Total-Direct Energie)

Peloton at 1:30

Pierre Latour (AG2R), Omar Fraile (Astana) and Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) also went down in that crash, and all three riders are in the process of bridging back to the peloton.

The rain, meanwhile, is falling every more heavily over the race, and the afternoon is suddenly growing rather grim about the mouth. The next descent off this climb could be treacherous indeed as the intensity ratchets up ahead of the finale.

Jumbo-Visma, UAE Team Emirates and Bora-Hansgrohe are all stationed at the head of the bunch for the time being. The miserable conditions will make the competition for berths at the front of the peloton all the more intense as the day draws on.

Letour.fr reports, meanwhile, that Pavel Sivakov is receiving medical attention following the crash as he rides along behind the bunch. 

-98km

The escapees are on the unclassified ascent towards Aspremont, and their lead over the bunch has dropped quite suddenly as Jumbo-Visma set the pace in the peloton. 44 seconds the gap.

Niccolo Bonifazio (Total-Direct Energie) is the first of the fast men to betray signs of suffering at the rear of the peloton as the pressure rises a notch or two.

Another crash at the head of the peloton. A couple of riders slid out on a road marking that was made treacherous by the persistent rain.

It looked like Lukas Postlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) and an Arkea-Samsic rider who went down in that crash, though reportedly without lasting injury.

-95km

Some gaps have opened in the peloton on the rain-soaked descent off the Aspremont. Luke Rowe (Ineos) is at the front and the Welshman is sensibly taking a very cautious line through the hairpins. The break's lead, meanwhile, has jumped back out to one minute.

Pavel Sivakov is still chasing the peloton alone, and we can now see that his right arm and side are bloodied and bruised. The Russian is two minutes down on the bunch and taking these hairpins in instalments.

Rowe is serving as a one-man safety car at the head of the peloton, though the stalling doesn't appear to be helping Sivakov to get back up to the bunch. Plenty of riders will be glad, mind, not to race flat out down this hairpin-littered and wet descent.

-93km

Out in front, Fabien Grellier is descending with all the assurance of Pavel Tomkov on the infamous, rain-soaked stage to Schio on the 1998 Giro d'Italia. The Frenchman is drifting several lengths off Gautier and Schar on the approach to each hairpin. 

Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) has crashed on the descent. The Frenchman is back on his feet and he doesn't appear to be badly hurt, but it's never a happy portent for a Tour to crash on the opening afternoon. He stands waiting for a replacement bike, which eventually arrives.

-90km

Break:

Michael Schär (CCC Team), Cyril Gautier (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) and Fabien Grellier (Total-Direct Energie)

Peloton at 1:33

Alaphilippe is now channeling 1998 Tonkov as he takes a foot out of the pedal and drags it along the ground as he makes his way gingerly around a hairpin doused in surface water.

Alaphilippe is some 3:50 down on the break and two minutes off the bunch as he again hangs a leg to get around a hairpin. The Frenchman is even behind the struggling Sivakov on the road for the time being.

-87km

Break:

Michael Schär (CCC Team), Cyril Gautier (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) and Fabien Grellier (Total-Direct Energie)

Peloton at 2:19

Chaser at 3:20

Pavel Sivakov (Ineos)

Chaser at 3:55:

Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep)

Alaphilippe is now on flat roads and looking rather more sure of his grip as he climbs from the saddle to give chase. The Frenchman should be able to make his way back up to the bunch.

A rather glum faced Egan Bernal is situated near the rear of the peloton, though I don't believe he was a faller. His teammate Andrey Amador was a faller at around the same point as Alaphilippe. 

Alaphilippe has a minute to make up on the bunch, which has now drifted to 2:44 behind the escapees.

Alaphilippe almost came a cropper again as he made his way through a traffic jam in the convoy of cars, but the Frenchman is almost within sight of the rear of the bunch.

Alaphilippe has joined a group featuring Amador, Sivakov and Tom Dumoulin just behind the bunch. I'm not sure if Dumoulin went down, but he must have endured some manner of mishap - mechanical or otherwise - to be in this group.

-81km

Break:

Michael Schär (CCC Team), Cyril Gautier (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) and Fabien Grellier (Total-Direct Energie)

Peloton at 2:50

Chasers at 3:06:

Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma), Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Pavel Sivakov (Ineos)

-79km

The group featuring Dumoulin, Alaphilippe and Sivakov has rejoined the peloton, which is currently 2:40 down on the three escapees. 

The rain has eased slightly but there is little respite in the bunch, where the pace is beginning to rise once again on the flat run-in to Nice, where the race will pass the finish line for the second time in around 10km or so. That passage over the finish line will also encompass the day's intermediate sprint.

-76km

Alaphilippe is back with the Deceuninck-QuickStep car, talking them through whatever issue he had with his bike after crashing on the previous descent. Pierre Latour, meanwhile, is only just getting back on after his earlier crash.

-75km

Letour.fr reports that Nairo Quintana was an earlier faller, though the Colombian is safely in the peloton. Giacomo Nizzolo (NTT) suffered a mechanical problem earlier in the stage. 

Sivakov, meanwhile, is in a group that is still lingering off the rear of the bunch and Alaphilippe is again in this group after his parley with the Deceuninck-QuickStep team car. We can expect plenty more confusion in the breathless final hours of racing in these conditions.

Sivakov really looks to be suffering the effects of his earlier crash. The Russian will just look to make it to the finish any way he can. He was  back at the team car and shaking his head as he spoke with Gabriel Rasch. Now he drops by the race doctor's car and he appears be having his left wrist assessed. 

-70km

The bunch is 1:33 down on the three escapees. Sivakov, meanwhile is alone, 4 minutes down on the leaders.

Alaphilippe and Nizzolo are back in the main peloton, but just as he rejoins, there is another crash in the bunch. Amador has gone down for the second time, and the Costa Rican was not the only faller. Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-Scott) and David de la Cruz (UAE Team Emirates) also went down.

-68km

Grellier leads the break through the finish line and the intermediate sprint with a lead of 53 seconds over the peloton. Peter Sagan beats Matteo Trentin in the sprint for 4th place to begin his green jersey campaign on the right foot.

Richie Porte is chasing on at the back of the bunch. The Tasmanian was caufght up in that crash and he faces a desperate pursuit as the intensity increases in the bunch.

Pavel Sivakov, meanwhile, looks like he went down once again, as now his left arm is bloodied and his shorts are torn. The Russian is enduring a miserable Tour debut, and he is 4:25 off the front of the race.

-66km

Break:

Michael Schär (CCC Team), Cyril Gautier (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) and Fabien Grellier (Total-Direct Energie)

Peloton at 0:38

Chaser at 1:24:

Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo)

Chaser at 4:23:

Pavel Sivakov (Ineos)

-65km

Yet another crash in the peloton... The combination of copious road markings and surfact water is making this course utterly treacherous. Three Bahrain-McLaren riders went down, including Mikel Landa, and it also looks like Wout van Aert (Jumbo-VIsma) was a faller...

Is there a patron in the peloton to call for a self-policed neutralisation in the manner of Fabian Cancellara on the 2010 Tour or, er Lance Armstrong and Danilo Diu Luca on the 2009 Giro? 

-63km

At the head of the race, Gautier and Schar have distanced Grellier at the base of the second ascent of the Côte de Rimiez.

The brief lull in the peloton has allowed Richie Porte to get back on. Julian Alaphilippe appeared to have stopped to change back to his original bike, and the Frenchman is now safely - or as safely as is possible on this hazardous parcours - tucked near the head of the bunch.

Grellier is caught by the peloton. If Gautier wins the mountains sprint out front, he will move ahead of Grellier and take the polka dot jersey.

-61km

Break:

Michael Schär (CCC Team) and Cyril Gautier (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept)

Peloton at 0:32

After the top of the Côte de Rimiez, the road continues to climb towards Aspremont, before the riders face into a by-now familiar but no-less-treacherous descent.

-59km

Gautier and Schar have just 16 seconds in hand as they approach the top of the climb. They should just about survive in front to dispute the sprint. 

Schar goes very early and he will take the maximum 2 points atop the summit. Gautier is second, which means that Grellier, Gautier and Schar all have two points in the king of the mountains competition...

Nizzolo, meanwhile, is suffering at the rear of the bunch. The European champion must have gone down earlier in the stage, as he looks to be in considerable distress. Roman Kreuziger places a consoling arm on his back.

-57.5km

Schar and Gautier have been caught by the bunch, which isn't quite all together, as several riders including Nizzolo and Sivakov are dangling off the rear of the race.

Omar Fraile and Astana lead the bunch on the short descent that follows the KoM. George Bennett comes forward and suggests they slow down.

Caleb Ewan has been confirmed as being among the fallers ahead of the climb, and the Australian is more than 6 minutes down on the peloton and his hopes of winning the stage and taking the first yellow jersey of the 2020 Tour are long over.

Mikel Landa and his Bahrain-McLaren cohort are back near the head of the peloton. Nizzolo is trailing at 1:06 and the Ewan group, which I believe includes John Degenkolb is at 6:35.

-55km

Jumbo-Visma, Cofidis, Groupama-FDJ, Bahrain-McLaren and Arkea-Samsic are all present in numbers at the head of the race. There seems to be little appetite to push on the pace at the moment in these miserably wet conditions.

We will see, of course, if this détente endures once the road starts descending again with 51km remaining. The GC contenders will hope it does.

Tony Martin looks to be in the role of patron of the peloton. The German spread his arms as if to signal a cessation of hostilities ahead of the next descent. The lull in pace is allowing Nizzolo to latch back on. Ewan, of course, has been irretrievably distanced after his earlier crash.

Most of the riders who went down, or who were caught behind crashes or who may have gone down (there has been considerable confusion out there) appear to be back in the bunch. The exception is Caleb Ewan, who is minutes behind the bunch.

-51km

A rear puncture for Sam Bennett, who calmly gets a wheel change and has a quikc conversation with Tom Steels - winner of stage 1 of the 1998 Tour in Ireland - before he re-enters the fray.

Stefan Kung and Tony Martin are the men who appear to be setting the tone for the moment at the head of the bunch. Being a German-speaking rouleur increasingly feels like a requirement for potential shop stewards in the modern Tour peloton.

-50km

The race is over the unclassified Aspremont, and the bunch is now facing into the descent that caused so many problems the first time out. It remains to be seen if anyone will dare to break the implicit pact this time around.

Astana lead on the descent, albeit without pushing on the pace. The body language of the Kazakhstani team suggested they might not have been entirely in favour of laying down arms.

Omar Fraile and three Astana teammates have stretched things out a little at the head of the race, but Ion Izagirre locks up his wheels on a corner, slides across the road and, while still upright, slams into a road sign. The Basque mercifully looks to be unhurt, but that could have been horrific. 

After that scare, Primoz Roglic rides up alongside Omar Fraile and signals for Astana to calm down and slacken the pace. The men in blue have duly left the front of the race and the bunch is spread across the road once again.

-45km

Caleb Ewan was listed as being 6 minutes down at one point but now the Australian is among the cars behind the peloton. We don't have a time check on Ewan, but it will raise questions about the peloton's self-imposed neutralisation (or about the GPS signal for the timing system) if he makes it back on and takes the yellow jersey. 

Ewan is 48 seconds down on the peloton. He might well get back on, though he will surely have had to use a lot of energy to get back to this point.

Ewan has Jasper De Buyst for company. The Australian doesn't appear to be showing any visible signs of injury as he chases, just over 30 seconds down on the peloton.

-42km

In fact, it appears it was Miguel Angel Lopez who narrowly avoided disaster for Astana on the descent. The Colombian is just about to latch back to the peloton aboard his teammate Izagirre's bike.

-41km

Caleb Ewan has also rejoined the peloton, having been reportedly been as many as six minutes off the pace after the earlier crashes.

We have confirmation that Nairo Quintana was a faller earlier for Arkea-Samisc, though the Colombian deftly picked himself back up immediately. 

-40km

Quintana, like all of the GC contenders, is in the main peloton, which has effectively neutralised the race ahead of the run-in. Richie Porte, another earlier faller, is tucked in near the front, as is Tom Dumoulin, who was caught up in a crash early in the stage too.

Pavel Sivakov is still in the race, but Letour.fr reports that the Russian is some distance behind the peloton.

Kevin Ledanois (Arkea-Samsic) crashed in Nice

Kevin Ledanois (Arkea-Samsic) was among the fallers earlier in the stage. (Image credit: Getty Images)

Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) was one of several riders to crash during stage 1

Pavel Sivakov (Ineos) is ploughing a lone furrow long behind the peloton. (Image credit: Getty Images)

-39km

There are some shades of stage 2 of the 2010 Tour and the Cancellara-led neutralisation on the road to Spa about proceedings here, although the conditions seemed more obviously treacherous here. It will be fascinating to see at what point the temporary cessation of hostilities ends on the final run-in to Nice.

The road continues to drop downwards until around 22km or so to go, so we can expect no increase in the intensity of the peloton until at least that point.

-35km

The bunch is still fanned across the road and the riders at the head of the race are chatting amiably. All riders will be glad simply to make it to the finish this afternoon, though the high-octane finale will inevitably pose risks of its own, given the sheer volume of road-markings on the course.

After three hours of racing, the average speed is 39.9kph. The speed has dropped considerably in the last 45 minutes or so as a consequence of the peloton's (almost) unanimous response that relentless succession of crashes. 

The bunch comes almost to a stop every time it hits a hairpin bend, with some riders forced to pull a foot out just to stay upright and get around. 

-30km

Into the final 30km for the peloton, which is maintaining a united and effectively neutralised front for the time being. This truce might break once the race hits flatter roads in the final 20km, though the first yellow jersey of the Tour seems destined to be decided by a bunch sprint on the Promenade des Anglais.

The on-screen graphics at one point suggested that Caleb Ewan was more than 6 minutes down on the bunch but even allowing for the slackening of the pace, it seems unlikely that he made up that deficit. If the Lotto Soudal man changed bikes, then perhaps that time check was taken from the transponder on his original machine. We should have more clarity at the finish.

-28km

Another crash in the peloton. The roads remain treacherous despite the low speed. George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) goes down heavily. Tony Martin waits with him until the team car arrives. Bennett gets unsteadily to his feet and remounts, but he looks to be struggling. He is riding very gingerly and he will hope simply to make it to the finish and live to fight another day in this Tour.

-27km

Bennett is making his way very cautiously indeed down the remainder of this descent, 1:40 down on a peloton that has reached wider and flatter roads.

-25km

George Bennett draws up alongside the Jumbo-Visma team car, but he keeps pedalling and should make it to the finish. The peloton is on flat roads now but still riding very tentatively indeed.

Egan Bernal is locked in conversation with his Ineos teammate Michal Kwiatkowski. Peter Sagan chats with Sonny Colbrelli. Greg Van Avermaet share a joke. It's hard to be believe the first yellow jersey of the Tour will be on the line in 24km, but the pace remains gentle for the time being.

Roglic and Alaphilippe also exchange words near the head of the peloton, where Tim Declercq is now leading. It looks as though the pace is going to ratchet up ahead of a bunch sprint, though conversations are ongoing in the body of the peloton.

-21km

The race is back on... Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R La Mondiale) attacks alone and opens a small gap over the peloton.

-20km

Cosnefroy carries a 14-second lead into the final 20km, Deceuninck-QuickStep take up the reins at the head of the bunch. NTT, UAE Team Emirates and Cofidis are also prominent.

Tour de France 2020 107th Edition 1st stage Nice Nice 156 km 29082020 Mikel Landa ESP Bahrain McLaren Clement Russo FRA Team Arkea Samsic photo Luca BettiniBettiniPhoto2020

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

-18km

Cosnefroy still has 14 seconds on the bunch. The unfortunate George Bennett is alone, 30 seconds off the back of the peloton.

-16km

Remi Cavagna, Tim Declercq and Kasper Asgreen are to the fore for Sam Bennett at the head of the bunch. 15 seconds the deficit to the lone leader Cosnefroy.

A Jumbo-Visma delegation is also well placed near the head of the bunch. Will Wout van Aert have the freedom to contest the sprint? Based on what he said at the start, it appears as though he will. The Belgian suggested that he would chase stage victory if Dumoulin and Roglic were both safely tucked in the main peloton on the run-in.

-14km

Benoit Cosnefroy remains committed to his effort but the peloton is almost upon him. The gap is just a handful of seconds. George Bennett, meanwhile, has managed to latch back on the peloton.

-13km

Cosnefroy has been brought back by the bunch.  NTT and CCC have joined the scramble for positions at the head of the peloton.

-12km

Jumbo-Visma look to be committed to teeing up Wout van Aert for a crack at the first maillot jaune of the Tour. The Dutch squad took the jersey on the opening day in Brussels a year ago through Mike Teunissen.

-10km

The neutralisation is a thing of the past now, as Jumbo-Visma pile on the pressure at the head of the bunch with 10km remaining.

-8km

Deceuninck-QuickStep and Jumbo-Visma lead the race into the final 8km.

Word is reaching us that the times for general classification will be taken with 3km to go at the request of "many riders in the peloton."

-6km

That explains the presence of Ineos near the head of the bunch. They will look to keep Bernal in situ at the front until 3km to go.

-5km

Deceuninck-QuickStep have Cavagna on the front for Sam Bennett. The rain has abated but the roads are still slippery.

-4km

Andrey Amador was a faller twice today, but the Costa Rican is prominent in helping to bring Bernal home safely this afternoon.

-3.5km

Deceuninck-QuickStep remain in the box seat with Cavagna and Asgreen. There is a pinch point coming with 2km to go and the scramble for positions will be vital.

-3km

Right at the 3km point, there is a crash in the peloton and a number of riders have gone down. This will be a difficult one for the commissaires to figure out... Thibaut Pinot is among the fallers...

I think it was just inside the final 3km, so Pinot shouldn't lose any time. He remounts, but he has a share of cuts and a torn jersey and shorts.

-1.5km

Mitchelton-Scott take over with Jack Bauer on behalf of Luka Mezgec.

-1km

Ryan Gibbons (NTT) leads the bunch beneath the flamme rouge.

Bora-Hansgrohe lead it out, then Trek-Segafredo take over with Consonni...

Michael Morkov begins his lead-out....

Cees Bol hits the front but Alexander Kristoff is moving up...

Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) wins stage 1 of the Tour de France.

Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) took second place, but Kristoff will be the first yellow jersey of the 2020 Tour.

Pinot, Alaphilippe, Dan Martin and Guillaume Martin were all among the riders caught up in that crash but it looks like it happen inside the final 3km so it won't affect the general classification.

Cees Bol took third on the stage, ahead of Sam Bennett. But there was no getting past Kristoff, who got his big gear turning and didn't let up. The Norwegian has more than justified his selection ahead of the on-form Gaviria. It's not the first time Kristoff has won a big sprint at the end of a miserable and wet day on the Riviera - he won Milan-San Remo in similarly grim conditions in 2014.

Bol went from distance, but Kristoff flashed past him to take the spoils. Pedersen produced a fine sprint to come through for second, while Bennett had to settle for 4th.

Alexander Kristoff  puts on his face mask and describes his day: “I always dreamt about wearing the yellow jersey and it’s a dream come true. You can’t dream of a better start. We have a team for the climbers, so we didn’t really expect to win a sprint, at least not so early on. I felt really strong in the final kilometres and going to the line I saw I was going to win. it was an amazing feeling and I’m really proud of what I managed to do. Ok, the boys kept me also safe during the stage but in the last kilometres, I was alone, but I still found the good wheel.

“I was sitting on Sagan for a long time, but I got a bit boxed and lost him a little bit. Then I saw Cees Bol starting on the right and tried to follow. He went quite early and I saw he was fading. I still had legs so then I went, and at the end I was the strongest. That was an amazing moment for me.

“My run-in to this Tour has not been great, I had no results to show for. I crashed in the European Championships so I was a bit banged up, but it didn’t affect me today so I’m very happy.

“It means a lot for my career and a stage win shows I can still be up there even at 33 years old and with four kids. I still manage to perform so I’m very happy about that.”

Team UAE Emirates rider Norways Alexander Kristoff celebrates as he crosses the finish line of the 1st stage of the 107th edition of the Tour de France cycling race 156 km between Nice and Nice on August 29 2020 Photo by Thibault Camus POOL AFP Photo by THIBAULT CAMUSPOOLAFP via Getty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Result

1          Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates         3:46:23

2          Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo          

3          Cees Bol (Ned) Team Sunweb          

4          Sam Bennett (Irl) Deceuninck-Quickstep     

5          Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe   

6          Elia Viviani (Ita) Cofidis       

7          Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) NTT Pro Cycling      

8          Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept     

9          Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct Energie  

10        Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo

 

General classification

1          Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates         3:46:13

2          Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo           00:00:04

3          Cees Bol (Ned) Team Sunweb           00:00:06

4          Sam Bennett (Irl) Deceuninck-Quickstep      00:00:10

5          Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe   

6          Elia Viviani (Ita) Cofidis       

7          Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) NTT Pro Cycling      

8          Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept     

9          Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct Energie  

10        Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo

 

Thibaut Pinot's annoyance was obvious as he rode into the finish line. The Frenchman had just reached the 'shore' of the time-neutralised final 3km only to come down heavily in a crash immediately afterwards. It remains to be seen if his crash will have a lasting impact. Amid the adrenaline of the closing kilometres, the pain was outstripped by frustration.

Sam Bennett initially looked well placed but he had to yield Morkov's rear wheel to Trek-Segafredo's Simone Consonni. He never quite built up a head of steam in the sprint and wound up a distant fourth, while Peter Sagan came home in fifth.

Tour de France 2020 107th Edition 1st stage Nice Nice 156 km 29082020 Alexander Kristoff NOR UAE Team Emirates Peter Sagan SVK Bora Hansgrohe Mads Pedersen DEN Trek Segafredo Giacomo Nizzolo ITA NTT Pro Cycling Cees Bol NED Team Sunweb photo POOL Vincent KalutPNBettiniPhoto2020

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Tour de France 2020 107th Edition 1st stage Nice Nice 156 km 29082020 Alexander Kristoff NOR UAE Team Emirates Peter Sagan SVK Bora Hansgrohe Sam Bennett IRL Deceuninck Quick Step Giacomo Nizzolo ITA NTT Pro Cycling Cees Bol NED Team Sunweb photo POOL Vincent KalutPNBettiniPhoto2020

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Team GroupamaFDJ rider Frances Thibaut Pinot C lies on the ground after a crash during the 1st stage of the 107th edition of the Tour de France cycling race 156 km between Nice and Nice on August 29 2020 Photo by AnneChristine POUJOULAT AFP Photo by ANNECHRISTINE POUJOULATAFP via Getty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The first yellow jersey of the Tour goes to Alexander Kristoff, but the Norwegian's success is just one of the talking points from a dramatic opening day in Nice. The self-policed neutralisation by the peloton after a spate of crashes is the day's headline. Thibaut Pinot's crash with 3km to go was the big news among the GC contenders, though the Frenchman will be awarded the same time as the rest of the peloton as it took place just - just - within the final 3km. 

Before the stage began at all, meanwhile, there was confirmation from Christian Prudhomme that the 'two strikes, team out' policy will apply to all 30 members of a team's riders and staff, rather than just the riders themselves.

Kristoff, now with the yellow jersey on his shoulders, dons the face mask again for another interview: "It’s going to mean a lot to me in my career. I don’t have so many years left so for sure when I retire in a few years’ time, I will look back at this moment with a lot of joy. It’s a proud moment for me. It will be a proud day for me, and I guess I will only hold it for one day unless something very strange happens tomorrow, so I will try to enjoy it as much as possible.

"[Taking yellow] was in the back of my mind [before the start] but I knew it would be difficult because there are a lot of teams here with riders for the sprint, whereas I am actually alone. We have the whole team for the GC contenders. I asked to come to the Tour because I knew I needed it to get in shape for the Classics later. Of course, the Tour de France is the biggest race in the world, and you want to perform. I really wanted to find the form for this race. I hadn’t shown it before the race but today I was the fastest, so it doesn’t matter what I did before.

“Everybody was crashing around but I said it was easier than riding on ice on Norway. I think it was the right call to take it make it more easy on the downhills so we don’t already lose any big contenders on the first day. the temperature was fine for me because I trained in this conditions for all of July, so I was quite at home.”

Tour de France 2020 107th Edition 1st stage Nice Nice 156 km 29082020 Alexander Kristoff NOR UAE Team Emirates photo POOL David StockmanBelgaBettiniPhoto2020

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Tour de France 2020 107th Edition 1st stage Nice Nice 156 km 29082020 Alexander Kristoff NOR UAE Team Emirates photo POOL Vincent KalutPNBettiniPhoto2020

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Tour de France 2020 107th Edition 1st stage Nice Nice 156 km 29082020 Thibaut Pinot FRA Groupama FDJ photo POOL Vincent KalutPNBettiniPhoto2020

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Peter Sagan (5th) on his day: "It was a crazy last kilometre. It was all the way a headwind. I started my sprint with 200 metres to go but it was very nervous. In the end it was a big mess. A sprint with a headwind like this is a bit of a lottery. I just need a bit more good luck."

Groupama-FDJ have provided a short update on their crashes in the finale: "Three of our riders crashed in the finale: Thibaut Pinot, David Gaudu, William Bonnet. Valentin Madouas also crashed earlier in the stage. All of them reached the finish line on their bikes. They were reassuring back at the bus."

Fabien Grellier (Total-Direct Energie)  is the first wearer of the polka dot jersey: “We knew that there was the risk of heavy rain so I started with tyres deflated slightly in preparation for that. When you’re in a region where it rains so rarely, the road becomes like an ice rink when it actually does rain. There were a lot of crashes. I crashed myself in the last 3km but it was superficial, I don’t have any injuries. My day has finished well with this polka dot jersey.

“I targeted this jersey this morning. The king of the mountains at the Tour de France is something massive. I had to do the best sprint possible against Michael Schär. At the start I didn’t know if Schär was in front of me or not, I only found out five minutes later that I had the jersey. it was a good end to the day.”

Pavel Sivakov (Ineos) made it to the finish alone, 13 minutes down on the peloton. The Russian fell twice during the stage.

Omar Fraile offers an explanation for why Astana appeared to lift the pace on the final descent, per AS. “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. I was like riding on soap.

“It was carnage. 80% of the peloton must have fallen. You looked around and everybody had torn kit.”

NICE FRANCE AUGUST 29 Rain Bike Detail view during the 107th Tour de France 2020 Stage 1 a 156km stage from Nice Moyen Pays to Nice TDF2020 LeTour on August 29 2020 in Nice France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

A full report, results and pictures from a tumultuous opening day are available here.

John Degenkolb finished outside the time limit after battling to help Caleb Ewan back to the bunch and after crashing himself. 

Miguel Ángel López says his dramatic crash 'could have been much worse'

Alexander Kristoff is expecting to lose the maillot jaune on the mountainous stage 2 but says he'll enjoy wearing it for a day.

After last year's tearful exit from the Tour, the cruelty continues for Thibaut Pinot who crashed just inside 3km to go.

Catch the highlights reel from today's stage here.

Recap on the crashes on stage 1: Rain and twisting descents spark numerous crashes during stage 1

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