BRUSSELS — 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 marked by defending champion Geraint Thomas’ crash in the finale.
Another top contender, Jakob Fuglsang, also hit the tarmac about 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the finish.
Teunissen edged former world champion Peter Sagan and Caleb Ewan on the finish line in Brussels.
Thomas’ Ineos team said he fell in the final meters of the stage but “feels fine.”
Fuglsang, who is rated among the favourites this year, got back on his bike with blood on his face and right knee, and scratches on his jersey. The Astana team leader managed to reach the finish without losing time.
The race started from the Belgian capital to honour the 50th anniversary of cycling great Eddy Merckx’s first of five Tour victories. The 194.5-kilometre (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.
The last crash played havoc within the sprinters’ teams riding at the front and split the peloton in two. It took out of contention Teunissen’s Jumbo-Visma teammate Dylan Groenewegen, the team’s best sprinter.
“Bizarre scenario. I hope Dylan is OK,” said Teunissen, who was initially set to be part of Groenewegen’s lead-out train.
The 26-year-old Teunissen became the first Dutch rider to wear the yellow jersey since Erik Breukink 30 years ago.
In the slightly uphill section leading to the finish line on the leafy Avenue du Parc Royal, Teunissen perfectly timed his effort to deny Sagan a 12th stage win at the Tour.