SAN DIEGO, July 5, 2014 – In a surprising repeat of 2013, German sprinter Marcel Kittel of Giant-Shimano won the first stage of the 2014 Tour de France after favorite Mark Cavendish of Omega-Pharma crashed yards from the finish line in Yorkshire.
Unlike last year, replays showed that Cavendish took himself out leaning his shoulder into Australian cyclist Simon Gerrans of Orica-Greenedge in an attempt to clear room for a run to the finish. Instead, both hit the pavement. Cavendish hit the ground hard, going straight down on his right shoulder. It was a miracle most of the oncoming riders managed to avoid crashing, with only one other rider going down.
It became a battle for the stage victory between Kittel and star sprinting rival Peter Sagan of Cannondale, with Kittel repeating his first stage victory.
See the crash and finish here via EuroSport TV:
It is a rare treat for a sprinter to wear the overall leader’s yellow jersey. Cavendish had dreams of a fairy tale finish at home in Harrogate, Yorkshire with thousands of fans, the Royal Family and Prime Minister David Cameron looking on. Instead, he appeared to barely finish the stage, holding his right shoulder in pain and barely crossing the finish line before a trip to Harrogate District Hospital. His entire Tour may be finished due to a broken collarbone, an incredibly painful injury.
UPDATE: BBC Radio reports the Omega-Pharma team physician says Mark Cavendish did not suffer a broken collarbone following today’s Stage 1 crash. His status for Stage 2 is unclear.
The young royals, William and Kate, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry cut the ribbon to start the Tour. Kate presented the yellow jersey to Kittel, wearing a brilliant sprinter’s green dress.
2013 Tour winner Chris Froome showed he means business by finishing sixth. Swiss powerhouse time trial rider Fabian Cancellara nearly stole the show by bursting ahead of the sprinters with less than a mile to go before the finish, but he could not hold them off. Fan favorite Jens Voight of Trek Factory Racing took the climber’s polka dot jersey and was named most combative rider for leading a breakaway most of the race.
The British public turned out by the tens of thousands, crowding the race course along the entire route and putting on the same crazy displays as French fans. North Yorkshire Police praised the behavior of the crowd. North Yorkshire Police Corporal Sean Simpson posted on Twitter, “Tell you what, today feels more special than when London had the Olympics.”
Sunday’s Stage 2 remains in England, from York to Sheffield. This stage features several small categorized climbs which might prove to be an early test for the general classification contenders like Froome, Alberto Contador, Nairo Quintana and Rui Costa. Let’s see if a GC contender can make his mark early.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Follow the Tour de France daily in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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