Kick off of the 110th Tour de France! Teammates at Israel-Premier Tech, Quebecers Hugo Houle and Guillaume Boivin started the biggest cycling race in the world by helping their compatriot Michael Woods to fifth place in the first stage in Bilbao, in the Basque Country.
“It’s a good start for us. We wanted to place Woods to keep him at the front and he managed to complete the job with three riders from our team in front, so it was a successful day,” Hugo Houle told Sportcom.
Michael Woods crossed the finish line 12 seconds behind winner Adam Yates of UAE Team Emirates.
“Woods had the target to win the stage, but we can be encouraged by the way we raced today,” said Houle, 90th of the day (9 minutes 42 seconds). Personally, I’m happy with my form and happy that the first stage is behind us. »
As expected, the crowd answered the call along this initial 182 kilometer route.
Houle is on his fifth appearance at the Grande Boucle. The experience is very useful to him in order to negotiate well in the peloton, but the sensations remain very special.
“There was a lot of noise and it put us in the mood. I was happy to be on the starting line and very excited. The Tour is still the Tour. There is only one race like this in the world and it is still so unique,” admitted the cyclist from Sainte-Perpétue, winner of the 16th stage last year.
Guillaume Boivin is taking part in his third Tour de France. This time, he was able to prepare properly for the event, unlike last year, when he was called in at the last minute.
“I’m super proud to be back. It was my goal this year to come back here, well prepared and to forget the bad memories I had of last year’s Tour,” said the Montrealer, 111th on Saturday, 13 minutes and 53 seconds behind Adam. Yates.
A spectacular end awaited the spectators gathered in Bilbao, as the victory was decided between the brothers Adam (UAE Team Emirates) and Simon Yates (Jayco AlUla) at the red flame.
They took the lead on the leading group during the descent of the Côte de Pike a little less than ten kilometers from the finish. The fraternal collaboration allowed them to accentuate their lead. Adam Yates has finally had the last laugh and will be the first to wear the yellow jersey.
His Slovenian teammate Tadej Pogacar also gave UAE Team Emirates a reason to celebrate by being the fastest in the sprint for third place.
Note the abandonment of the Spaniard Enric Mas (Movistar) following a fall suffered with twenty kilometers to go. Also involved, the Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz (EF Education-EasyPost) managed to get back on the road and finish the stage, in bad shape.
The riders now meet in Vitoria-Gasteiz on Sunday for the 208.9 kilometer long second stage which will take them to San Sebastian.
“We will probably focus on Mike, we keep an eye out to try and get ahead. I will try to get my legs talking and we will have a lot of work. I can’t wait to see how it will develop,” concluded Hugo Houle.