Skip to main content
Live coverage

As it happened: Breakaway holds off charging peloton in thrilling close finish as DSM-Firmenich PostNL take 1-2 in opener

Refresh

Bonjour and welcome to Cyclingnews live coverage of stage 1 of the 111th 2024 Tour de France!

It's back, finally! The biggest bike race in the world is about to start and we're getting the build-up started an hour and a half before the riders set off from the neutralised start in beautiful Florence. 

To get things started, make sure to read our preview of stage 1, written by one of CN's team on the ground at the Grand Départ, Dani Ostanek:

Teams have arrived in Florence and are gearing up for sign-on and the team presentation. Here's Visma-Lease a Bike and defending champion Jonas Vingegaard setting off from their team hotel this morning.

Big crowds welcome the first team on stage, TotalEnergies.

Reminder that although it is a punchy day, Mathieu van der Poel doesn't see it was an option for himself of Jasper Philipsen:

Wonderful reception for fan-favourite Mark Cavendish on stage in Florence, a place dear to his heart. He's here in search of stage win 35.

Make sure to catch up with this great read on the importance of the Italian Grand Départ, which honours the hometowns and training roads of Italian greats Gino Bartali, Marco Pantani and Fausto Coppi:

Here's Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan) arriving at the start of stage 1 on his 16th and final Tour de France.

Just 30 minutes until the départ fictif now in Florence. Reminder that it is absolute scorcher today in Tuscany so temperature regulation will be incredibly important.  

Huge reception for World Champion Mathieu van der Poel as he brings the rainbow bands to the Tour de France. 

Make sure to check out CN's mega Grand Départ tech gallery, as shot and put together by our associate editor Josh Croxton, who is on the ground in Italy for the opening 3 stages:

Follow our Instagram for on-the-ground updates in Florence and Rimini on our stories:

Mathieu van der Poel

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tadej Pogacar

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The riders have just set off from the neutralised zone - the Tour is to begin soon! Not just yet, though, as they will spend longer than usual in the zone than usual as they savour the sights of Florence.

Mark Cavendish is in good spirits, waving to the crowd as the peloton sets off from the unofficial start. He’s here riding the fifteenth Tour of his career, and is, as has been much discussed, chasing the record-breaking 35th win.

Although there are no climbs ranked higher than category two today, there are a lot of them — seven in total, amounting to 3,600m elevation gain in total. It’s been described as one of the hardest starts to a Tour de France, and one that even many puncheurs will find too hard. 

Duomo

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Still 10km left of the neutralised zone. The Tour de France is making the most of this unique Grand Départ.

Peloton

The riders earlier, at the unofficial start (Image credit: Getty Images)

Now just 4km until the official start. Sometimes earlier Grand Tour stages can be characterised by how little riders want to get into the break, but the amount of climbing on the menu today, and the prospect of everything from a Polka-dot jersey and fame on such a big occasion, should mean there’s action once the flag drops soon.

A terrible start to the Tour for Jan Hirt, even before the unofficial start. The Czech rider crashed on his way back to the team bus after signing on, breaking three of his teeth. Soudal-QuickStep team will need him to recover, as he’s set to be a key domestique in the mountains for Remco Evenepoel.

205KM TO GO

After a pause of a few moments, the attacks begin, led by Groupama-FDJ's Valentin Madouas.

Stefan Küng is also being lively at the front. Groupama-FDJ seem eager to get into the break today, and have their strongest men utilised. 

Even fortmer podium finisher Romain Bardet is getting involved in the attacks! This is far from the usual suspects of wildcard teams and small names trying to get into the break. 

A group of about ten now has the biggest gap we've seen so far, but even that is only a few seconds.

That move has been brought back.

A new group now trying to clear, featuring Paul Lapeira, now very conspicuous in his tricolore jersey as newly crowned French national champion.

They’re brought back, and a new group of five try their luck, with a Groupama-FDJ rider involved again.

DSM is the best-represented team in the current leading group, with two riders.

Jan Hirt is at the back of the peloton, and already suffering. What an unfortunate start to the Tour for him. 

Everything is back together again in the peloton. 

Raúl García Pierna has managed to escape and is out in front alone, with a small group behind him chasing.

García Pierna now has seven riders with him at the front, and a handful of seconds on the peloton. Could this be the break?

It seems not - a flurry of counter-attacks from the peloton has seen everything come back together again. 

Peloton

(Image credit: Getty Images)

190KM TO GO

Wout van Aert has his hand up at the back of the peloton.  He's taking things easy for now, but could be a contender for the stage later depending on how well recovered he is from his injury. 

The pace has slowed in the peloton - this might be the break of the day.

47 seconds for this 7-man group - this certainly seems like the day's break.

It's a strong group, too.  Mohorič, Ion Izagirre and Valentin Madouas are all present. 

The group in full:

There were some riders trying to bridge up to them, Gianni Vermeersch and Jonas Abrahamsen but they’ve been brought back.

52 seconds now between the peloton and the seven leaders. If anyone wants to bridge, they're going to have to go now.

Magnus Cort jumped out of the peloton, but already seemed to have given up the ghost.

Cort's brought back, and now one of his Uno-X teammates ups the pace in the peloton. It's clear the team are unhappy about missing the break, but they seem in mixed minds as to what to do next. 

They're not committing to leading the peloton, either. The pace is off again.

Instead, they've fired two riders up the road in a counter-attack.

180KM TO GO

Rasmus Tiller and Odd Christian Eiking are the two Uno-X riders. They're 15 seconds ahead of the peloton, but still 1-20 behind the seven leaders. 

Big crowds at the roadside as the riders pass through Dicomano. The Italians have turned out in numbers to greet the Tour.

Lidl-Trek riders are now pulling in the peloton. That's an early signal of intent - do they fancy Mads Pedersen to manage to get over the climbs today?

The work from Lidl-Trek has brought back the Uno-X Mobility duo. 

Uno-X Mobility aren't done yet though - now Abrahamsen tries to get up the road.

Bike change for Jonas Vingegaard in the peloton - as a result of a mechanical, not a crash. 

Abrahamson has Ryan Gibbons on his wheel, and the peloton seems happy to let them go clear.

Vingegaard is back safely in the peloton.

170KM TO GO

First sighting of the world champion Mathieu van der Poel, but it's out the back of the peloton. He's needing someone to fix his radio.

The break is climbing for the first time today, taking on the first of seven hills. It’s almost all either uphill or downhill until now and the finish in Rimini.

Peloton

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Gibbons and Abrahamsen have made the juncture, meaning the lead group is now made up of nine riders.

TotalEnergies representative Vercher is being dropped from the break on the climb. The problem for riders from the wildcard teams like them on a day as tough as today is that, even if they succeed in making the break, staying in it is no guarantee.

The pace is really off in the peloton now, allowing the gap to grow to 4-40. Someone in the peloton will have to take control eventually, if they are to bring this break back and contest for the stage, and the race's first yellow jersey. 

So who are the riders in the break? The headline name is Matej Mohorič, who last year added a third career Tour stage win to his palmares. This kind of terrain suits him, though you might have expected him to hold back until later in the Tour, when breaks are more likely to succeed, to try his hand at a breakaway.

The rider in the break with the best climbing credentials is Ion Izagirre. He’s not had the form to be considered a threat on GC, hence being allowed up the road, but should still fancy his chances of dropping the rest of the break come the later climbs.

The third standout name is Valentin Madouas, back in Groupama-FDJ colours having just lost his French national champion title. Unlike the other two, he hasn’t before won a Tour stage, though has come close with a second place finish in 2022. He was eager to get into the break at the start of the day, and will want to make the most of it having succeeded.

160KM TO GO

Now that he's made it into the break at last, Abrahamsen needs keeping an eye on. The Norwegian rider was a livewire last year, attacking multiple times, and has since proven himself a breakaway specialist.

Mark Cavendish has been dropped out the peloton, and is struggling. The way he is dousing himself in water suggests he might be struggling in the heat.

Cavendish has his teammates around him, but he's 25 seconds off the peloton. 

With the gap having grown to over six minutes, EF Education-EasyPost are the first team to take matters into their own hands and lead the peloton.

They're working for Alberto Bettiol, the recently-crowned Italian champion. What a story it would be for him to win on home roads in the tricolore.

The break reach the top of the first climb, and there's a tussle for the KOM points...

Izagirre took maximum points, from Madouas and Abrahamsen. It wasn't an all-out sprint, but they've still shown intent. 

More sprinters now being dropped out the peloton - Fabio Jakobsen and, more surprisingly, Fernando Gaviria. 

Three and a half minutes after the leaders, Vercher crests the climb. It seems there's no way he's making it back into that group. 

Valentin Madouas

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The peloton now reach the top of the climb. EF's work has been enough to bring the gap back down from six minutes to five minutes already. 

Every time the camera goes back to Cavendish, he' having water poured over him. He's looking very uncomfortable. 

He has four teammates with him trying to encourage him, but is shaking his head and looking bad. He'll need to find reserves of strength from somewhere or else his Tour is in peril.

150KM TO GO

Cavendish is visibly unwell. He vomited on the bike near the top of his summit. He’ll be relieved to be descending again, but desperately needs to recover fast with so many more climbs to come. For now, he looks in a world of pain.

Cavendish has just been sick again on the descent. He's not making any inroads, three minutes adrift from the peloton.

Vercher has been brought back by the peloton.

140KM TO GO

EF's work is bad news for Cavendish, though, who is now over three and a half minutes adrift. He faces one of the fights of his life to make the time limit. 

Michael Mørkøv, Cees Bol, Davide Ballerini and Michele Gazzoli are the four riders with Cavendish. There present as much for emotional support as physical support. 

130KM TO GO

The break is at last done descending, and on the second climb now, Côte des Forche. It's much shorter than the previous one, lasting only 2.5km, but relatively steep with an average of 6.7%.

The break reaches the top, and the same riders sprint for it. Izagirre wants again claimed maimum points, ahead of Abrahamsen and then Madouas.

There's now about 4-30 between the peloton and Cavendish. The gap is still growing, but not exponentially, so he's not capitulating yet.

Cavendish and his Astana teammates reach the top of the climb, 5 minutes after the peloton. 2 climbs down, 5 to go. 

Peloton

(Image credit: Getty Images)

120KM TO GO

Abrahamsen and Dujardin both sprinted for it, with the latter coming out on top. The real interest will come in a few minutes, when we see which sprinters are interested in the points classification. 

Having done that sprint, the break are back climbing again, this time the category three Cote de Carnaio (10.1km at 4.7%). 

Lidl-Trek lead out the peloton for the remaining points available in the intermediate sprint, for Mads Pedersen. Pedersen was edged to the line by defending Philipsen, though.

Philipsen and Pedersen were the top two from last year's points classification, and look set to do battle once again this year.

Three other riders also competed in the sprint - Biniam Girmay, Bryan Coquard and Sam Bennett. It's especially interesting to see Bennett give it a go, given his struggle for form in recent years - he clearly believes he will be stronger this Tour. 

Dujardin has been dropped from the lead group on this climb, having claimed maximum points at the sprint. 

Dylan Groenewegen is the latest sprinter to be dropped out of the peloton, on the current climb. He'll be saving himself for stage three, likely to be the first bunch sprint of the Tour. 

Steve Williams is making his way back into the peloton having fallen back with a mechanical. 

More damage in the break, with  Champoussin the latest to be dropped.

Mechanical for Dorian Godon, who'll need to chase back on on this climb. 

More sprinters going out the back now, including Arnaud Demare and Jasper Philipsen. Philipsen may believe it's job done for the day having earned those intermediate sprint points. 

Mark Cavendish

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Pogačar is down a teammate, as Nils Politt is dropped. He has more than enough protection to keep him safe today - in fact, soon we’ll be wondering if and when they will apply pressure at the front of the peloton for a potential attack.

110KM TO GO

Izagirre launches a sprint towards the top of the summit, and takes maximum points again. Abrahamsen is on his wheel for second, and looks annoyed at the Basque, but it's hard to tell why - he didn't appear to do anything wrong. 

We've had a first crash on the road today, as Wilco Kelderman hits the deck. The TV cameras didn't capture the incident, but he's just been shown now rejoining the peloton, with some bandaging on his left elbow. 

At the back of the race, Cavendish and the Astana riders have some company now as Fabio Jakobsen and his DSM teammate Bram Welten, plus Jonas Rickaert of Alpecin-Deceuninck, drop back. That suggests he's not suffering uniquely, and should help him survive the day.

100KM TO GO

Aleksandr Vlasov

(Image credit: Getty Images)

90KM TO GO

The Tour has it's first abandonment - Michele Gazzoli. The Italian was one of the riders with Cavendish, and has clearly been having his own problems. 

You can read more about the ongoing sitution with Mark Cavendish here, in what is still shaping out to be the story of the day. 

It's still EF Education-EasyPost leading the peloton, led by Sean Quinn in his snazzy news American national champion jersey.

Peloton

(Image credit: Getty Images)

80KM TO GO

The leaders are on the climb now, beginning it with a lead of 4-30. That's still a big gap, but could disslve very quickly once the peloton start riding hard.

And the pace is already up in the peloton as they approach the foot of the climb. Lots of teams want premium position before starting it. 

This is the most intense it's been in the peloton since the breaks were forming at the start of the day. 

They hit the climb, and it's Ineos at the front. 

The pace is slower on the climb, though, the riders more interested in being well-positioned then setting a tempo up it. 

Now UAE Team Emirates take to the front. Is this the beginning of their plan for today?

Tim Wellens is the man leading the peloton up the climb for UAE Team Emirates. 

Bad news for David Gaudu, who is slipping out the back of the peloton. He's been in bad form going into the race, but wouldn't have expected to suffer this much. His GC hopes might be over already. 

Magnus Cort now being dropped, who had been considered an outside shout for the stage win. 

Back in the break, Madouas is setting the pace, and Izagirre has surprisingly been dropped as a result. 

Michael Matthews now dropped out the peloton, another who might have fancied his chances.

Wellens has done his turn, and now it's the turn of Marc Soler to take over for UAE.

Huge crowds greeting the break as they continue up the climb, even a kilometres out from the summit. 

Arnaud De Lie has also been dropped from the peloton with Stevie Williams. This is looking more and more like a stage for the climbers than the puncheurs. 

It's actually Pavel Sivakov who's leading for UAE, with Marc Soler waiting in the wings. His work is fast bringing the break closer. 

Abrahamsen sprints for the mountain points, from far out.

70KM TO GO

More big names out the back of the peloton - Van der Poel and Pedersen. The pace set by UAE on this climb is proving to be too much for many fancied for the stage win.

By taking maximum points Abrahamsen takes over from the dropped Ion Izagirre as the virtual King of the Mountains. Valentin Madouas was second to the summit, meaning he is now third-place virtually. 

Now even outside GC contenders are sturggling - Bahrain Victorious' leader Santiago Buitrago has been dropped. That's a surprise, as this terrain seems tailer-made for him.

Buitrago is part of a group that has rejoined the peloton on the descent, however, along with Pedersen. But with three more climbs to come, he'll have to recover fast if he's not to lose time.

Ion Izagirre is now back in the peloton, which is now just over minutes away from the break.

Nelson Powless

(Image credit: Getty Images)

60KM TO GO

UAE Team Emirates

UAE Team Emirates leading the peloton (Image credit: Getty Images)

Bike change needed for Richard Carapaz in the peloton. This has been a better start to his Tour so far than last year's, when he crashed and abandoned on the very first day. 

The break have started the next climb, Coté de San Leo. It's a steep one, averaging 7.7% for 4.8km. 

It's not UAE leading on the approach to this climb, but rather Ineos Grenadiers and Bora-Hansgrohe. 

Now UAE take control again, with Sivakov resuming the pace-setting. 

The peloton doesn't look like it has much more than 40 riders left in it. 

Attack from Romain Bardet!

An interesting move from the experienced French rider, who's taking part in his last ever Tour de France. With the break now just 1-15 from the peloton, he might feel he can bridge the gap.

Talking of the break, it's splitting up on this climb. Gibbons and Mohorič have been dropped by the other three.

50KM TO GO

Bardet is flying up this climb. He's just passed Mohorič, and is closing down on the leaders, already just 40 seconds behind. 

Bardet is also already 40 seconds ahead of the peloton, who clearly aren't worried about letting him go. 

Gibbons is the next rider Bardet passes on his way towards the top of the climb.

Now he's reached his DSM teammate Van den Broek, who can set the pace for him. This has turned into a very smart ploy by Bardet and his team. 

The leaders crest the climb, with Madouas taking the points from Abrahamsen. The latter remains in the lead of the KOM virtually. 

Bardet and Van den Broek are flying down the descent, and almost with the leading duo. 

They now have almost 1-20 on the peloton, too. Bardet is in with a chance!

Madouas and Abrahamsen start the next, and day's penultimate climb, and within seconds have been joined by the two DSM riders.

Van den Broek has been put to work immediatley. He'll bury himself now for Bardet, and stay with him for as long as possible. 

Attack from Ben Healy! The Irishman makes his move just as the peloton starts the climb.

We assumed EF were working for Bettiol earlier, but it seems their plan was multi-pronged. 

Abrahamsen is done. The pace from Van den Broek is too much for him, and he's dropped from the lead group. It was an excellent day for him nonetheless.

Now Abrahamsen has to hope that Madouas can't hang on to the two DSM riders for the rest of this climb, otherwise the Frenchaman may take the polka-dot jersey instead. 

Visma-Lease a Bike are again leading the peloton up this climb. Whatever plan UAE might have had, they appear to be changing tune now and riding more defensively. 

40KM TO GO

Juan Ayuso is struggling at the back of the peloton! This would explain why UAE have eased off.

Bardet reaches the top, and he still has Van den Broek with him. That'll be of help as he pushes on during the descent to the foot of the next and final climb.

Ben Healy now reaches the top, a minute behind the leaders. 

Now Visma-Lease a Bike lead the peloton over the summit of the climb, 45 seconds after Healy. It's not a guarantee that they will being these riders back, especially if they keep going at this pace.

At the back of the race, Fabio Jakobsen is now struggling even more than Cavendish. He's been dropped by the Astana riders, with his teammate Bram Welten waiting up to help. 

As for Cavendish, he has been limiting his losses better recently, and is about 20 minutes behind the peloton. Things aren't looking as perilous for him as earlier. 

Romain Bardet

Romain Bardet, making his attack earlier (Image credit: Getty Images)

They're on the final climb of the day, the Coté de San Marino. If we're going to see GC action, or attacks from the peloton to try to catch these breakaway riders, they're going to have to do so here. 

It's looking good for Bardet for now, who has a lead of a minute over Healy and now 2 minutes on the peloton, and still has his teammate Van den Broek for company. 

Wilco Kelderman is now taking it up for Visma-Lease a Bike. Might they go in for the kill, and try to eliminate Juan Ayuso from GC contention?

Healy had caught Madouas earlier, and now has dropped him on this climb. The Irishman is now third on the road. 

A line of four Visma-Lease a Bike riders lead the peloton, followed by six Ineos riders. 

30KM TO GO

The three Visma riders behind Kelderman are Vingegaard, Jorgenson and Van Aert. Van Aert might fancy his chances for a stage win, but it's slipping away for them with Bardet still almost two minutes ahead. 

Ben Healy

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Bardet reaches the top of the climb, and still Van den Broek is there! Bardet's ride is extraordinary, but Van den Broek's is arguably even more impressive given he was dropped from the break earlier. 

EF have changed their plan. With Healy going nowhere, they've taken over at the front of the peloton. We can expect a Bettiol attack shortly. 

The DSM are taking risks down this descent. With EF upping the pace they might have to, but they do still have a big lead of 1-37.

We had assumed that Bardet would be the DSM rider to take the glory today, but if he and Van den Broek make it to the finish together, will they sprint against each other? Or have an agreement about who takes the stage, and therefore the yellow jersey?

They're not worrying about that just yet. They still have 24km to ride to make it to the finish. 

20KM TO GO

Romain Bardet

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Bardet has won three Tour de France stages in his career, but never worn the yellow jersey. This would be a huge moment in his career. 

Still 1-25 for the DSM leaders, though things are about to get harder as they finish descending and ride on the flat. 

As for Cavendish, he's under half an hour behind the peloton, and should make the time cut. We're unsure exactly where Jakobsen is though - he could be in more trouble if he's been dropped from that group. 

There's an irony in that this exceptional ride by the two DSM riders could yet cause the team's sprinter, Fabio Jakobsen, to potentially miss the time cut. 

In the peloton, EF have been joined by Lidl-Trek, who have Mads Pedersen still in the peloton. They are going to do everything thay can to let him sprint for the stage win.

The gap comes under one minute for the first time in a while, and there's still 11km left to ride. 

Visma-Lease a Bike are also joining the chase, trying to set up Wout van Aert.

10KM TO GO

EF are the third team contributing. They clearly still believe in Bettiol, even if he's unlikely to have the kick to compete with Pedersen and Van Aert. 

40 seconds now for the leaders, with 7.5km still to ride. 

5km to go, 35 seconds. This is going to be agonisingly close. 

4m to go, and the clock is still saying 35 seconds. If that's correct, it's looking better for the DSMs.

There aren't much numbers in this severely reduced peloton to take up the chase, and they appear to be struggling. 

The clock has updated, and is now saying 22 seconds. Only 3km left to ride. It's still very close. 

2KM TO GO

Pedersen and Van Aert will have started to think about their sprint, is there anyone who can compete with them if they do catch the leaders?

1,500 metres to go, 11 seconds.

The peloton has them in their sights now.

1KM TO GO

They have a chance...

It's looking good for them...

Theyve done it!

Bardet was first over the line, and takes the victory!

Behind Van Aert wins the sprint for third place, a few seconds behind.

That was an astonishing finish, and a truly extraordinary achievement from Team dsm-firmenich PostNL.

It's one thing to win a stage and take the yellow jersey at the Tour de France - to do so with two of your riders crossing the line together is the stuff teams dream of.

Team DSM-Firmenich PostNL team's French rider Romain Bardet cycles to the finish line ahead of Team DSM-Firmenich PostNL team's Belgian rider Frank Van Den Broek (L) to win the 1st stage of the 111th edition of the Tour de France cycling race, 206 km between Florence and Rimini, in Italy, on June 29, 2024. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's an emotional moment for Romain Bardet, who can't have expected his final Tour de France to begin this way when he announced his retirement recently. He’s been one of the great French riders of his generation, and this is one of the best moments of his career.

And what about Frank van den Broek? Bardet couldn’t have done it without him, and he announces himself as a major talent with this ride - not to mention an exemplary teammate. He can demand one hell of a pay rise when contract talks reopen.

For all the work done by their respective Lidl-Trek and EF Education-EasyPost teams, Pedersen and Bettiol didn’t have it in the sprint after all, finishing down in seventh and tenth. Pedersen must have used up so much energy just to still be in the peloton after all that climbing, while Bettiol isn’t a natural sprinter.

Here’s the top ten in full:

As for the GC contenders, there were no major surprises, with all the top favourites finishing in the 50-or-so strong peloton - including Juan Ayuso and Santiago Buitrago, despite some of his problems. 

One rider not able yet with the rest of his DSM teammates is Fabio Jakobsen. He's still out on the road trying to finish within the time limit, but it seems as though he will make it.

The same applies for Mark Cavendish, but he seems to have put the worst behind him earlier in the day, and is also presumably on course to make it to the finish in time. 

Bardet will wear yellow tomorrow, of course, for the first time in his career at the Tour de France. For his stirling efforts helping him Van Den Broeck will wear green, while Abrahamsen did enough to take the polka-dot jersey ahead of Madouas.

By finishing fifth on the stage, Van Gils will wear white, keeping the jersey warm for Van den Broeck, who leads that classification as well as the points classification.

Tour de France: Romain Bardet of France and Team dsmfirmenich PostNL celebrates at podium as Yellow Leader Jersey winner during the 111th Tour de France 2024 Stage 1 a 206km stage from Firenze to Rimini UCIWT on June 29 2024 in Rimini Italy Photo by Dario BelingheriGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Only a few kilometres to go for Cavendish. He's going to make in time.

He even gives a thumbs up to the camera. He must have been through hell today, but is relieved now.

Cavendish is on the finishing straight now with his Astana teammates, as well as Jakobsen and his DSM teammates. There are relieved smiles all round. 

Thans for joining us today, for what was a barnstormer of a Tour opener, an emotional rollercoaster full of drama and stories! Make sure to read our full report of everything that happened today. At this rate we're in for a vintage Tour, and the action resumes in Italy tomorrow.