Tour de France: Fernando Gaviria takes first stage as Chris Froome crashes

Vincenzo Nibali, Nairo Quintana Romain Bardet and Richie Porte- Tour de France 2018 Who are the favourites to challenge Team Sky's defending champion Chris Froome

Overall, Froome is in 18th place, 55 seconds off the pace and still 44 behind 2017 Giro d'Italia victor Dutchman Tom Dumoulin, who with Team Sunweb only lost seven seconds to the Briton today. It's just one of those things.

"What an incredible day, nobody is happier than me".

"We are going to do our best", Martin said one day before the Tour in the west of France.

But there was some ugly cheering at the Fontenay finish line where a giant screen was broadcasting the images live.

"If you had told me at the start that I would be only 40 seconds off Froome after the team time trial I would have been pretty happy".

Fellow overall contenders Richie Porte and Adam Yates were also caught behind in the Froome group.

Two-time runner-up Nairo Quintana is 1:31 back after he lost time following the puncture of both his tires near the end of Stage 1.

Geraint Thomas of Sky was third overall, three seconds behind.

Gaviria, 23, easily beat out sprinting world champion Peter Sagen and German rider Marcel Kittel to the line.

The Tour de France continues Tuesday with a mostly flat 121-mile stage four, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold (full broadcast schedule here). David Zabriskie also won a prologue on debut in 2005 but was later stripped of the victory for admitting to doping.

Thomas, who wore yellow for four days a year ago, said that he was not bothered by the...

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"These few days are going to be tricky and sketchy and that's part of the game unfortunately".

"A team time trial is always a something special when the whole team makes efforts for the same goal", Van Avermaet said.

The peloton of 22 teams of eight riders will then race along the windswept coastline famous for attracting vast crowds of yachting enthusiasts for the Vendee Globe around-the-world race that also sets off there.

Sagan has won the sprinters jersey five times and is a strong favourite to claim a sixth in Paris.

Froome is 1:07 behind Sagan's leading time as he pursues a fifth Tour title.

"We have to respect that he's allowed to race, and within a safe environment, and he's had all kinds of abuse at the moment and no athlete should have to go ride under that and have their safety questioned at the sport's biggest event".

For much of the stage, the route hugged the coastline alongside sparkling waters, pristine beaches and an abundance of salt marshes.

Former leader Peter Sagan was dropped by his Bora-Hansgrohe teammates and fell to 80th overall, three minutes behind.

Chris Froome's bid for a record-equalling fifth Tour de France title got off to a shaky start Saturday after a dramatic crash left him trailing first stage victor Fernando Gaviria by over one minute.

Those incidents came as the speed picked up and the peloton reeled in Sylvain Chavanel, the Direct Energie rider who had been away solo since the 35km marker on the 182.5km stage from Mouilleron-Saint-Germain.

Associated Press writer Joseph Wilson contributed.

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