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Kittel wins Le Tour opener as Cavendish crashes

Germany's Marcel Kittel, who won an impressive four stages last year, took the famous Yellow Jersey

By Martyn Herman

GERMAN Marcel Kittel powered to victory in the opening stage of the Tour de France on Saturday while Britain’s Mark Cavendish crashed heavily in the final straight.
Giant Shimano rider 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, performing 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.
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.

The peloton kept a three-man breakaway group, which featured German veteran Jens Voigt, on a tight leash.
The 42-year-old Voigt, taking part in a record-equalling 17th Tour de France, went solo after the intermediate sprint, leaving Frenchmen Nicolas Edet and Benoit Jarrier behind.

The move earned him the polka dot jersey for the mountain classification.
The stage was no walk in the park and several riders, including Spain’s Joaquim Rodriguez and top French hopeThibaut Pinot, were caught off guard when the peloton split.
They made it back to the bunch who were slowed by the big crowds on some narrow roads.

Defending champion Chris Froome of Britain was sixth.

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

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