The biggest stage races on the men’s and women’s calendars have started – we’ll be looking back at the first two stages of the Tour and the first three stages of the Giro Rosa. Plus we’ve got the Sibiu Tour, the Tour of Austria, and the Climb to Kaiser, voted one of the top 10 rides in the USA.

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The Tour de France – The biggest news from the first half of stage one was crash of Lawson Craddock – the EF Education First rider crashed in the feed zone, getting a nasty gash above his eye and clearly in pain, unable to put weight through his left shoulder. Froome, Porte and Adam Yates lost 51 seconds, Quintana and Bernal 1 minute 15 – not an ideal start to a three-week race for them, although their rivals won’t be too displeased. Up front, though, it was business as usual for Quickstep floors. The winning machine just cannot be stopped this year, and their lead-out for Fernando Gaviria was impeccable. They dropped him off with 200m to go, and from that point, the result was never really in doubt. Sagan came off the wheel, but then had to go immediately back onto it as he couldn’t match the power of Gaviria.

Stage 2 followed a similar formula, with an early 3 man move, only this time it quickly whittled down to one. Michael Gogl succumbed to a bee sting and then Dion Smith went back to the bunch after winning the KOM point, leaving just Sylvain Chavanel up front alone. But he was loving it, the Vendée is where his team, Direct Energie, are from, and he’s a popular rider – this is his 18th Tour de France and that was his 350th stage. We had our first two abandons on stage 2 – Tsgabu Grmay succumbed to stomach problems, whilst Luis Leon Sanchez crashed, fracturing his elbow and four ribs – remarkably he did at one point try to get back on his bike. Up front, Chavanel was caught inside the last 10km’s, setting things up for a big bunch sprint, but the group was much reduced after a crash inside the last 2km’s saw Fernando Gaviria hit the deck, all hopes dashed for the Colombian on the day. Arnaud Demare was the first to hit out on the slight rise to the finish line, but Sagan was straight on and then around his wheel, and just about held off Sonny Colbrelli to take the stage win, and with it his first yellow jersey since 2016. He also now holds a 26 point lead already in the Green Jersey competition, as we head into the Team Time Trial today.

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