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Gallery: Tour de France 2020 opening weekend in 10 images

1 Sep 2020

Words: Joe Robinson Photography: Offside

The Tour de France some thought would never take place is actually happening and it was a weekend of blood, sweat and tears. 

The three-week annual lap of France has only ever been cancelled by world wars, and the ongoing Covid-19 has proved its biggest adversary since 1946. Somehow, race organiser ASO and the French Government have defied what many believed was inevitable and the racing goes on.

So began the 107th Tour de France, albeit two months late, in the French city of Nice behind a collection of masks and race bubbles.

The opening day of the Tour proved a sketchy one. If you were to put together a list, it would likely be quicker to name those who didn't hit the tarmac than those who did.

Nice's first bout of heavy rain in months left the newly paved roads as slick as ice and saw riders slide around the course like curling stones. Until Jumbo-Visma's Tony Martin inaugurated himself as peloton patron, the day looked set to become farcical.

Eventually, a tough day was won by a tough man, 33-year-old Alexander Kristoff, who took a surprising yellow jersey for UAE-Team Emirates. As he put it, 'I’m 33 years old and have four kids but I still managed to win the biggest race in the world, so it gives hope for everyone!'

The day's biggest losers were Thibaut Pinot who, despite not losing time, crashed hard in the finale and poor Tour debutant Pavel Sivakov of Team Ineos who seemingly spent more time on the floor than his bike.

Thankfully Stage 2, an early exploration of Nice's surrounding mountains, was dry but with the majority of the peloton nursing wounds from the day before, the lion's share of the day will be one to forget as the peloton took their time.

Thankfully, Deceuninck-QuickStep's Julian Alaphilippe lived up to the pre-race billing to breathe life into proceedings on the final climb of the Col des Quatre Chemins.

Taking Marc Hirschi (Team Sunweb) and Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) to the line, he secured an emotional victory dedicated to his late father, who passed away in June.

Stage 3 and the Alaphilippe Show resumes, picking up from last summer's Tour, however beginning with much less in the way of fireworks. In fact, Stage 3 was one for the purists, your classic sprinters' stage.

A three-man all-French breakaway of Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R La Mondiale), Anthony Perez (Cofidis) and Jerome Cousin (Total-Direct Energie) presented bait to a one-man chasing taskforce, Tim Declercq (Deceuninck-QuickStep).

Once the day's mountain points had been contested and Perez had secured polka dot from Cosnefroy, the break became just Cousin and the racing became remarkably sedate. That was until Perez, who had just secured the mountains jersey, crashed into the back of his own team car and abandoned the race. Cycling is a tough sport.

Eventually, the race reached Sisteron and a bunch gallop to the finish. It looked like it was Deceuninck-QuickStep's Sam Bennett's to lose. That was until Caleb Ewan weaved his magic in the final 300m and salvaged a Tour for Lotto-Soudal that had already seen them lose John Degenkolb and Philippe Gilbert.

Alaphilippe, his £120,000 Richard Mille RM 67-02 watch, and the rest of the General Classification hopefuls finished safely in the pack behind and with all eyes on the race's first summit finish atop the Orcieres-Merlette today.