Tour de France: Marcel Kittel takes yellow as stage-one chaos costs Mark Cavendish
The opening stage of the Tour de France descended into chaos as Marcel Kittel claimed victory.
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 30/06/13 11:05am
Germany's Marcel Kittel emerged from a remarkable finale unscathed to claim the stage win and race lead, but Cavendish, Peter Sagan and Andre Greipel were among the sprinters who were caught up in the mayhem.
It began with about 20km to go, when the Orica-GreenEDGE team bus became stuck under the timing board above the finish line in Bastia.
When it was still there with less than 10km remaining, race organisers brought the end of the stage forward to the 3km-to-go banner, prompting a frantic fight for position and a collision that brought down around 25 riders and held up virtually all those behind.
Cavendish (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) stayed upright but had to stop to avoid the wreckage, while Sagan (Cannondale) fell heavily and only finished the stage after gingerly remounting his bike.
Froome and Contador held up
Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) also hit the deck and was grimacing when he crossed the line some time behind winner Kittel (Argos-Shimano), but Chris Froome (Team Sky), who had been held up, was uninjured.
Cavendish's Omega Pharma - Quick-Step team-mate Tony Martin was not so lucky. The German sustained concussion and widespread cuts and bruising, while Britain's Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) went to hospital for checks but was later given the all-clear.
A small group of riders who escaped the crash continued on to the finish line, which by now had been returned to its original position after the bus had been freed.
Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) saw his chances evaporate when damage to his bike sustained in the crash forced him to pull up, leaving Kittel free to sprint into the yellow jersey ahead of Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) in second and Danny van Poppel (Vacansoleil-DCM) in third. Britain's David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) stayed safe to finish fourth.
No time losses
Shortly after the stage, race organisers confirmed all riders would be given the same time, meaning the likes of Contador will not see their general classification hopes dented.
There was also drama at the start of the day, when Froome got his Tour off to a disastrous start by falling in the neutralised zone. He grazed his knee and required a bike change, but was otherwise unhurt.
Kittel's victory saw him move into the lead of the general classification, points classification and best young rider competition. Kristoff will wear the green (points) jersey on Sunday, with Van Poppel taking on the white (best young rider).
Earlier in the day, Juan Jose Lobato (Euskaltel-Euskadi) beat his four other breakaway riders to the summit of the stage's only categorised climb and will now wear the King of the Mountains' polka dot jersey on stage two.
Stage one result and general classification
1 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Argos-Shimano, 4:53:46
2 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha, same time
3 Danny van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM, st
4 David Millar (Gbr) Garmin-Sharp, st
5 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, st
6 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, st
7 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto-Belisol, st
8 Greg Henderson (Nzl) Lotto-Belisol, st
9 Jose Joaquin Rojas (Esp) Movistar, st
10 Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM