Harrogate - Mark Cavendish crashed badly in the sprint finish as Marcel Kittel
won the opening stage of the Tour de France on Saturday to take the race
leader's yellow jersey.
Cavendish appeared to be in pole
position for a chaotic final sprint until he made contact with
Australian champion Simon Gerrans and both came crashing down.
29-year-old Briton, who was hoping to win the 190.5km first stage from
Leeds to Harrogate, where his mother was born, came down hard on his
He was seen grimacing and holding his collarbone while
lying on the tarmac, before climbing gingerly to his feet and riding
over the finish line one handed, cradling his right arm in his lap.
Slovak three-time green jersey winner Peter Sagan finished second with Ramunas Navardauskas of Lithuania third.
Kittel confirmed his status as top sprinter following four sprint stage
victories last year at the Grand Boucle, keeping his cool to come
through the debris of fallen bodies to power to the line.
His reward will be to wear the yellow jersey on Sunday's hilly 201km second stage from York to Sheffield.
The race began under sunny blue skies at midday on Saturday with a royal send-off.
William and his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, presided over
an official opening ceremony to the greatest bike race in the world at
Harewood House just outside Leeds.
Prince Harry was also there as
the Red Arrows flew overhead and a band played the French and British
national anthems before the Duchess cut the official ribbon to give the
Once the actual stage started 3km further down the road, three riders attacked and formed the breakaway of the day.
oldest man in the peloton, 42-year-old German Jens Voigt was one of
those three but after being easily outsprinted by French escape
companions Benoit Jarrier and Nicolas Edet on the first categorised
climb, the Trek rider decided to go it alone.
He attacked just before the one and only intermediate sprint of the day and set off on his own with still 113km to ride.
At one point with around 100km left he had a lead of over five minutes on the peloton.
who was equalling the all-time record of 17 Tour appearances, had no
delusions of grandeur about winning the stage but wanted merely to crest
the next two categorised climbs ahead of the rest to ensure he would
wear this Tour's first polkadot jersey for the king of the mountains. A
goal he achieved.
But after the third climb he was soon caught by
the peloton which had set quite a pace as last year's third-placed
finisher Joaquim Rodriguez was in a bunch that had surprisingly slipped
off the back on the second of the three climbs, the 4.5km, 6.8 percent
average gradient, third category Buttertubs hill.
After Voigt was caught the pace slowed for 50km and Rodriguez managed ot get back to the peloton before the hectic final 10km.
Result of the first stage of the Tour de France, the 190.5km ride from Leeds to Harrogate, on Saturday:
1. Marcel Kittel (GER/GIA) 4hr 44min 07sec, 2. Peter Sagan (SVK/CAN) same time, 3. Ramunas Navardauskas (LTU/GRM), s.t., 4. Bryan Coquard (FRA/EUC), 5. Michael Rogers (AUS/TIN), 6. Chris Froome (GBR/SKY), 7. Alexander Kristoff (NOR/KAT), 8. Sep Vanmarcke (BEL/BKN), 9. Jose Joaquin Rojas (ESP/MOV), 10. Michael Albasini (SWI/ORI), 11. Fabian Cancellara (SWI/TRE), 12. Paul Voss (GER/APP), 13. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL/BMC), 14. Martin Elmiger (SWI/IAM), 15. Samuel Dumoulin (FRA/ALM), 16. Simon Clarke (AUS/ORI), 17. Geraint Thomas (GBR/SKY), 18. Andre Greipel (GER/LTB) all same time