Tour de France 2019: Mike Teunissen Wins Stage 1, Videos & Photos

Tour de France 2019

Tour de France 2019

Mike Teunissen claimed the first yellow jersey of this year’s Tour de France with a sprint victory in Saturday’s opening stage, which was marred by the defending champion Geraint Thomas’s crash in the final stretch.

Thomas’s Ineos team said he fell in the final meters but “feels fine.” Another top contender, Jakob Fuglsang, also hit the ground about 20 kilometers, or about 12 miles, from the finish in a separate crash.

Teunissen, 26, who became the first Dutch rider to wear the yellow jersey since Erik Breukink 30 years ago, edged the former world champion Peter Sagan and Caleb Ewan at the finish line in Brussels.

Thomas quickly got back on his bike after hitting a barrier while his teammate Egan Bernal was held up by the crash. They did not lose time as per race regulations because the accident occurred within the final three kilometers.

In the absence of the four-time winner Chris Froome, Thomas and Bernal have been promoted to co-leaders of the Ineos team.

Fuglsang, who is rated among the favorites this year, was hurt in the crash that took place a few moments earlier. The Critérium du Dauphiné winner, he remounted his bike with blood on his face and right knee, and scratches on his jersey.

The race started from the Belgian capital to honor the 50th anniversary of Eddy Merckx’s first of five Tour victories. The 194.5-kilometer (120.8-mile) trek took the peloton through the Flanders and Wallonia regions and back to Brussels, which will also host Sunday’s team time trial.

Past experience tells me that if Ineos (formally Team Sky) does have control of the race, their strength and depth will prevail and will be difficult to dethrone before Paris. The race then draws to an exhausting end with three epic mountain stages in the Alps, where the climbs are known for their consistency and length.

Ineos again have two race favourites for the eighth straight year – last year’s Tour winner, Geraint Thomas and rising Columbian star, Egan Bernal. This highlights the team’s extraordinary depth having lost four-time Tour de France winner, Chris Froome, to injury from a nasty crash in early June.

The absence of Chris Froome, along with 2018’s 2nd placegetter, Dutch rider Tom Dumoulin, has opened up more possibilities for other teams prior to the start of this year’s edition. This includes my team here, Mitchelton-Scott, as we try to improve on Adam Yates fourth place in 2016. There is no doubt that the 26-year-old Yates is stronger and wiser now and the team is ready to back him all the way.

For Kiwi fans, while this year’s starting line-up of Kiwis is a little less in number, George Bennett, who has been knocking up some of New Zealand’s best grand tour performances ever in recent years, is our man to watch.

I’m sure we’d all like nothing more than seeing a great result from him in the overall GC arriving into Paris. With a little luck and things falling his way, it can be a real possibility and all those who follow George know he deserves it.

Throw in Central Otago powerhouse, Tom Scully of the EF Education First team, donning the bright pink jerseys, and last year’s team time trial stage winner, Patrick Bevin (CCC Team), and we have a real mix of performers who after some years of grafting hard, are deservedly coming into their own. Both the latter, had standout career rides in the Tour of Switzerland recently and if they find themselves in the right move on any given day, they will be real contenders for New Zealand’s first ever individual stage win at the Tour de France.