Geraint Thomas said he felt “fine” after a late crash on the opening stage of the Tour de France as Mike Teunissen took a surprise victory in Brussels.
Thomas was among those caught in a big crash with around two kilometres of the 194.5km opening stage remaining, but the defending champion quickly remounted his bike to finish the stage.
Thomas fell into a barrier as the peloton ground to a halt but did not appear to suffer any injury, while his Ineos team-mate Egan Bernal stayed upright.
Team Ineos later tweeted: “Despite going down in the closing metres of stage one, @GeraintThomas86 was able to remount and finish the stage. He’s back at the bus and says he feels fine”.
Jumbo-Visma’s star sprinter Dylan Groenewegen appeared to come off worst in the incident, but Teunissen took victory for the team regardless as he held off Peter Sagan in a photo finish.
With the finish line on a slight incline it was one for the more powerful sprinters.
While it was no surprise to see Bora-Hansgrohe’s Sagan charging towards the line, it was Teunissen who edged him out by the width of a wheel rim, becoming the first Dutchman to take the yellow jersey since Erik Breukink in 1989.
The 26-year-old has already won Four Days of Dunkirk and the ZLM Tour this season but this is the biggest win of his career by some margin and was a surprise even to him.
“I cannot believe it,” Teunissen said. “We were working months to bring Dylan here to the yellow jersey and then with 1.5km to go everything disappears because he goes down in a crash.
“I thought ‘I am still here and I feel fresh, we can try it’. I saw everyone dying in the last metres. Sagan, I was catching up on and I just took him on the line. It is unimaginable.”
Lotto-Soudal’s Caleb Ewan came home third with Team Dimension Data’s Italian sprinter Giacomo Nizzolo – selected ahead of Mark Cavendish – finishing fourth.
The crash happened a little over two kilometres from the finish, with Groenewegen appearing to come off worst.
None of those involved will lose any time in the general classification with the incident occurring in the last three kilometres of the stage.
It was the second significant spill in the final 20 kilometres of an opening stage otherwise short on drama.
The first saw Jakob Fuglsang, among the favourites for the yellow jersey, go down hard just as the pace began to pick up.
The Dane did get back on his bike and made it back into the peloton with the help of his Astana team-mates, but only after a trip to the medical car as blood streamed down his face.
After the stage, Fuglsang went immediately to a medical truck for further treatment.
Earlier in the stage, Belgium’s Greg Van Avermaet was part of a four-strong breakaway and he crested the famed Mur de Grammont first and the Bosberg second to secure the king of the mountain’s polka dot jersey.