Kittel wins first stage of Tour de France

Home favourite Mark Cavendish crashes in the final sprint into Harrogate

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 July, 2014, 12:51am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 July, 2014, 12:51am


German Marcel Kittel won the opening stage of the Tour de France in Harrogate, England, on Saturday as home favourite Mark Cavendish crashed in the final sprint.

Giant-Shimano's Kittel will wear the race leader's yellow jersey on Sunday's second stage after triumphing in the 190.5km run from Leeds. Slovak Peter Sagan took second with Ramunas Navardauskas of Lithuania third.

A grimacing Cavendish, 29, came over the line several minutes later holding his arm across his body.

He came down hard on his shoulder in the final straight after contact with Australian champion Simon Gerrans, who also hit the deck, the pair taking down two or three other riders.

It was a dramatic and disappointing finish for Cavendish, who had been hoping to win in the town where his mother was born. He was seen holding his collarbone and in evident pain as he lay on the tarmac.

His Omega Pharma-Quick Step team looked to have controlled the run in to the finish until Spring Classics specialist Fabian Cancellara made a daring break for home with just over one kilometre left.

He was swallowed up, though, in the final few hundred metres as the sprinters' teams cranked up the speed.

Cavendish's crash, though, caught several riders out, forcing them to break and swerve to avoid the debris, leaving only a handful of racers to contest the sprint.

Kittel, the star sprinter of last year's Tour, was in the right place and proved too strong for three-time green jersey winner Sagan.

Defending champion Chris Froome of Britain was sixth.

Sunday's second stage is a treacherous 201-km trek from York to Sheffield.