'It's like I'm having a heartache right now': Inside the hardest ever Tour de France opening stage

Tour de France peloton reacts to a brutal opening stage in central Italy with heat and humidity levels preventing riders from performing to their usual levels

Tour de France 2024 stage one in Rimini
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There are various ways the Tour de France could start, such as a short prologue, a longer time trial or a bunch sprint. The 2024 edition chose none of those tried-and-tested options, instead plucking for a brutal opening stage that the peloton has declared the toughest ever way to begin a Grand Tour.

More than 3,500 climbing metres were packed into a 206km route from Florence to Rimini, with temperatures nudging almost 40C in central Italy. Dsm-firmenich PostNL scored a memorable one-two, Frenchman Romain Bardet claiming his first ever yellow jersey after he and his young teammate Frank van den Broek pulled off a team masterclass.

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Chris Marshall-Bell

A freelance sports journalist and podcaster, you'll mostly find Chris's byline attached to news scoops, profile interviews and long reads across a variety of different publications. He has been writing regularly for Cycling Weekly since 2013. In 2024 he released a seven-part podcast documentary, Ghost in the Machine, about motor doping in cycling.

Previously a ski, hiking and cycling guide in the Canadian Rockies and Spanish Pyrenees, he almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains. He lives in Valencia, Spain.