FONTENAY-LE-COMTE, France – After falling into a ditch, Chris Froome hoisted himself and his bike back up to the road.
It was a startling scene when the Team Sky rider tumbled into a grassy field in the opening stage of the Tour de France on Saturday, immediately putting his pursuit of a record-tying fifth title in peril.
Froome, though, is getting used to mishaps and challenges.
"I saw a lot of crashes out there today," said Froome, who went down with about 5 kilometers to go. "It's just one of those things. We always knew the first few days were going to be tricky and going to be sketchy."
With grass stains on his right shoulder and blood trickling down his right arm from a gash on his elbow, Froome crossed 51 seconds behind Fernando Gaviria, the Colombian who claimed the race's first yellow jersey. Accounting for time bonuses in the overall standings, Froome actually trails Gaviria by 1:01.
"I'm just grateful I'm not injured in any way and there's a lot of road to cover before Paris obviously," said Froome, referring to the finish July 29.
When fans at the first stage finish were informed of Froome's crash, many cheered. Froome, who was cleared of doping in an asthma drug case on Monday, also was jeered at Thursday's team presentations.
Gaviria, a Quick-Step rider making his Tour debut, easily outsprinted world champion Peter Sagan and Marcel Kittel to the finish line.
"The yellow jersey is one that everyone dreams of wearing, and to get it on the first day is amazing," Gaviria said.