France's Bardet wins Tour de France opener as Cavendish stuggles

Cycling 206 kilometres from Florence to Rimini for a hot and hilly stage, French climber Romain Bardet crossed the line to claim the first yellow jersey. Britain’s Mark Cavendish struggled, finishing second last over the line.

French climber Romain Bardet of the DSM team claimed the overall leader's yellow jersey when he won the opening stage of the Tour de France on Saturday with a late escape on a 206km run from Florence to Rimini.

Searing heat of 30C (86F) blighted the peloton as it set off from downtown Florence on the 21-day epic leaving many riders suffering, with British sprinter Mark Cavendish trailing by 30 minutes when Bardet crossed the finish line.

All the main contenders for the Tour title crossed the line five seconds adrift in the first of four stages featuring racing in Italy.

The 33-year-old Bardet's teammate Frank Van Den Broek was part of an early break and the pair survived a reel-in effort from a fast-closing peloton for victory on the Rimini seafront.

Race director Christian Prudhomme had promised a brawl from day one and so it proved to be as the peloton closed ever closer to Bardet and Van Den Broek who dug deep in an act of team spirit that bore rich fruit.

Never too late

This was Bardet's fourth stage win on the Tour and his first yellow jersey.

"The peloton was suffering from the heat but I had done heat training. So I grabbed an icepack and a bidon and went for it," said Bardet, kitted in the yellow jersey and beaming with delight.


Read more on FRANCE 24 English

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