Chris Froome’s quest for a fifth Tour de France almost came unstuck before it even began after a high-speed crash near the finish of stage one.
After an earlier crash bought down several of the pre-race favourites – including Australia’s Richie Porte – race radio announced that Froome had also taken a tumble in the closing kilometres of the opening stage to Fontenay-le-Comte .
There wasn’t clear vision of the crash on the broadcast, but it soon became clear that the four-time Tour winner fell into a grassy area on the side of the road.
Froome was quick to get back on his bike rejoin the chase group, eventually finishing alongside Porte and Adam Yates, 51 seconds behind stage winner Fernando Gaviria.
After the stage, Team Sky released footage from the onboard camera of a rider just behind Froome.
It shows the British rider getting bumped off the course as he tries to dart up the right side of the road.
The defending Tour champion tumbles off his bike and slides along a grass verge along the side of the road.
The vision shows how close he came to disaster, narrowly avoiding a metal pole and some advertising signs. The peloton had also passed a group of roadside spectators and cars.
While Froome lost almost a minute, his teammate Geraint Thomas finished the stage with the leaders in 14th place.
Fellow Tour hopeful Vincenzo Nibali was also in the lead group at the end of the day as Gaviria out-sprinted World Champion Peter Sagan and Marcel Kittel.
One-time Giro d’Italia victor Tom Dumoulin, last year’s polka-dot jersey winner Warren Barguil and fellow French hope Romain Bardet were also with the lead group.
After surviving all the crashes, Nairo Quintana punctured with just over 3km to ride and lost 1:15 to the leaders.