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Romain Bardet wins opening stage of Tour de France as Tadej Pogacar finishes fourth

Romain Bardet won a thrilling Stage 1 of the Tour de France in Rimini to take the yellow jersey as UAE Team Emirates rider Tadej Pocacar finished in fourth place.

Sir Mark Cavendish’s pursuit of a record-breaking 35th stage victory was put into question by an apparent illness.

Bardet attacked out of the peloton with 50 kilometres left of the 206km stage from Florence and, aided by his teammate and Tour debutant Frank 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, Cavendish and several of his Astana-Qazaqstan teammates 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 teammates 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 3 into Turin circled as the first of the “five or six” sprint opportunities he sees in this year’s Tour but, even if it was only a temporary bug or the effects of the heat, this day may take some time to recover from.

The first ever Italian Grand Depart of the race threw up an