Defending Tour champion Geraint Thomas opens up gaps on rivals

Cavendish 'heartbroken' over Tour de France omission

Dutch rider Mike Teunissen wins opening stage of the Tour de France

"Looking at GC, it's a good performance, but obviously we wanted to win".

The Team Jumbo Visna rider was not expected to be fighting for the win but he held off Slovenian Peter Sagan and Australian Caleb Ewan to take the stage by the narrowest of margins. "I had a little headache yesterday.

Jumbo-Visma averaged 57.2kmh over the course, beating Ineos" 56.5kmh.

And so when last-off team Jumbo-Visma beat them by 20 seconds, the disappointment was obvious as Geraint Thomas, Egan Bernal, Gianni Moscon and the others left the podium area beyond the Brussels Atomium and rode towards their team bus.

"It is a tough one, but I think G is wise enough to know that he's not had the greatest of runs this year", said Wiggins, a former track and road team mate of Thomas. "I'm exhausted, I was exhausted yesterday, but the cut over the eye is no problem, the leg is the worst thing and that is of course what you need here". "If my condition is fine, I will fight for the General Classification". "There is a lot of bike racing to do, the big mountains are to come, and I think I will be back on top in a few days".

Among the teams of the other leading overall contenders, Colombian Nairo Quintana's Movistar were 45sec behind Ineos, while Italian Vincenzo Nibali and his Bahrain lost just 16sec on Thomas.

"Though I won't be there, as always I'll be supporting my teammates with all I have, wishing them safety and success in France and hoping we can get even more children on bicycles". "We could have taken some curves faster but that was a minimal loss".

With the first few stages likely to be the domain of the sprinters Nibali, who crashed out heavily a year ago in the Alps, said he would have more idea of his form after stage six which finishes with a brutal climb to La Planche des Belles Filles.

To say being a professional cyclist is tough, cruel even, is an understatement of such magnitude it is hard to comprehend when you consider what their footballing cousins trouser each week, golfers take home from majors or tennis players win at grand slams.

The first of the 21 stages ended in a bunch sprint in front of the Royal Palace in Brussels.

"Yeah, pretty much, anything can happen in the first week, you can crash and lose a minute pretty easily", Yates said. "We'll see how it goes tomorrow".

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