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Ireland's Ben Healy surges but Romain Bardet wins Tour de France opening stage

Frenchman Romain Bardet won the first stage of the Tour de France on Saturday after Ben Healy briefly rasied hopes he could become just the fourth Irishman to wear the Yellow Jersey after Shay Elliott, Stephen Roche and Sean Kelly.

With 40 kilometres of the hilly Grand Depart - a 206 km ride from Florence - to go Healy made his move, breaking from the peloton in an attempt to bridge the gap to the breakaway.

However he failed to reel in the Team dsm-firmenich PostNL duo of Bardet and Frank van den Broek and eventually returned to the peloton.

Bardet attacked out of the peloton with 50 kilometres left of the 206km stage to Rimini and, aided by his team-mate and Tour debutant Van den Broek out of the breakaway, did just enough to hold off the approaching pack by a matter of metres on the Adriatic seafront.

But as Bardet, 33, was celebrating his first stage win since 2017, Mark Cavendish and several of his Astana-Qazaqstan team-mates were still negotiating the final climb up to San Marino, still with the long descent to the coast to go, more than half an hour behind the main pack.

Cavendish had been dropped on the opening climb, and appeared to be vomiting as he struggled in intense heat, with his team-mates pouring bottles of water over him.

As the race had rolled out of Florence, close to where Cavendish owns a home, the Manxman had enthusiastically waved to the crowds but it soon turned into a day of crisis as he faced a fight to finish the stage, and to do so within the time cut.

Cavendish, 39, postponed his planned retirement after crashing out of last year's Tour, returning to take one more shot at claiming the Tour stage win record outright, having matched Eddy Merckx in 2021.

He will have had Monday’s stage three into Turin