6 Jul 2014

Kittel wins first stage as Cavendish crashes

8:17 am on 6 July 2014

German Marcel Kittel powered to victory in the opening stage of cycling's Tour de France while Britain's Mark Cavendish crashed heavily in the final straight.

Kittel, who also won the first stage last year, took the overall leader's yellow jersey after easily outsprinting Slovakian Peter Sagan and Lithuanian Ramunas Navardauskas.

Cavendish, cycling in his mother's home town of Harrogate, seemed too eager to succeed in the closing stages and collided with Australian Simon Gerrans with both riders taking a tumble.

After being helped by the race doctor Cavendish crossed the finish line with his right arm folded and clearly in pain.

The former world champion stayed for around 10-15 minutes in his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team bus before leaving in an ambulance.

With huge crowds lining the mild ascents, the opening stage was a massive success as the Tour made its return to Britain seven years after London staged the Grand Depart.

Defending champion Britain's Chris Froome was sixth.

Kittel was never threatened in the sprint which he started about 400 metres from the line.

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