TdF Daily | Stage 1 | EF Education-EasyPost sets the tone

It's going to be a great Tour de France

June 29, 2024

Alberto Bettiol is proud of the way that he and his teammates raced this year’s Grand Départ: all 206 kilometers of it from Florence to Rimini.

Stage one of the 2024 Tour de France didn’t come to the storybook ending of the Italian champion’s dreams, but the way our team rode on his home roads set the tone for a great Tour.

This year’s race started with a parade past the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, Fountain of Neptune, and Loggia dei Lanzi, as the peloton made its way out of Tuscany’s great Renaissance city.

A fierce hour of racing to make the first break of the Tour followed. Once the move was established, our boys took charge at the front of the peloton. Before them lay seven savage climbs. The first stage of this year’s Tour de France featured as much uphill as most Alpine stages, spread across the sweltering countryside of Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna. Undaunted, they took up the reins under the hot summer sun and drove the pace all the way to the Adriatic, shedding sprinters and then punchier climbers to try to set Alberto up for the finish in the seaside resort of Rimini.

Romain Bardet (DSM) launched his race-winning attack with 50 kilometers to go. When Ben Healy attacked after him, he was still thinking of the sprint and trying to make the race hard for Alberto’s rivals. He couldn’t make it across to the front so dropped back to pull.

In the end, after a huge chase down the mountain, Bardet and his teammate stayed away. Alberto finished eighth in the sprint from what was left of the peloton, for tenth on the stage. He’d hoped for better, but will be back for revenge tomorrow on stage two, when the peloton races from Cesenatico to Bologna.

The Italian champion was encouraged by the huge crowds who came out to cheer for us today and by the excellent work that his teammates did for him on the road. You’re going to see a lot of pink off the front this year. It is going to be a great Tour de France.

Hear our riders thoughts about stage one.

Alberto Bettiol

Today was very special. There were a lot of people, a lot of my friends, cheering my name. We had to use almost all of my teammates to try to bridge the breakaway and unfortunately we didn’t. In the sprint, I was a little bit blocked. It’s different if you sprint for the victory or if you sprint for third place. We knew it was going to be very hard to control the race. We were the only team really committed. That was a pity, but this is cycling. We have to accept it. Anyways, we showed how strong we are. Now, we know that we are really strong and we can play our role when we want to. Today we failed, but we have three weeks to try to win stages.

Ben Healy

Honestly, my attack wasn’t really to try to bridge to the break. It was more to try to make the race harder for Pedersen and Wout van Aert, but we needed to think about the breakaway more to be honest. That was our mistake. Chapeau to those guys because they were so strong. There were six or seven of us pulling. We might not be the biggest engines but we were for sure some of the best riders in the world and we pulled full gas and just couldn’t bring them back. Personally, I am pretty happy. Something that I have struggled with a lot in the past is the heat and I seemed to manage it pretty well today. It took its toll on a lot of guys, I think.

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