Tour de France 2016: Mark Cavendish pulls on yellow jersey after stage one win - Road Cycling UK

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Tour de France 2016: Mark Cavendish pulls on yellow jersey after stage one win

Manxman sprints to victory on first stage of 2016 race

Great Britain’s Mark Cavendish pulled on the yellow jersey of Tour de France leader for the first time in his career after winning the sprint finish at Utah Beach as the 2016 race got underway.

Cavendish has led both the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana, won the points classification at all three Grand Tours and been crowned both British champion and world champion, but had never previously worn the maillot jaune.

The Dimension Data rider ensured he became the third Brit – after David Millar and Sir Bradley Wiggins – to pull on all three Grand Tours’ leader’s jerseys in a career, however, by outsprinting Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep) and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff).

Chris Froome (Team Sky) and his fellow GC men all finished in the same time, despite a late crash on the final run-in, but Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) did emerge battered and bruised from the stage after a nasty crash.

Mark Cavendish pulls on the yellow jersey for the first time in his career (pic: Sirotti)

Though a sprint finish was always likely, a five-man break went clear with Bora-Argon 18’s Paul Voss instigating the break and claiming both of the first two climbing points on offer in this race, to ensure he will wear the polka dot jersey on stage two.

Anthony Delaplace (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) and Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18) also went clear from the flag and Leigh Howard (IAM Cycling) and Alex Howes (Cannondale) made it a quintet when they came together after the climbs.

Strong crosswinds made for a nervous peloton and it was the GC teams massed near the front on the coast – perhaps remembering the chaos echelons caused on stage two of last year’s race, and the impact they had overall.

Contador crashed heavily on a concrete road divide, with Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing) and Luke Rowe (Team Sky) also caught up in the crash, with the Spaniard seemingly coming off worse.

Fears of a serious injury were quickly allayed as Contador rejoined the peloton but his torn jersey and bloodied shoulder bore testament to the impact of the crash.

Back in the break, Voss was happy to sit up and return to the bunch as Howard won the race’s first intermediate sprint.

Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) struck an early blow to his sprinting rivals, after kicking from the bunch, with the gap between the two groups little more than 40 seconds.

Howes and Delaplace attacked from the break with more than 50km still to ride – a move which suited the sprint teams as, amassing at the front of the bunch, they were happy to leave the two hanging just up the road.

It was Etixx-QuickStep and Lotto-Soudal on the front when the catch was finally made, but Cavendish was sat on the back of his former team’s sprint train, with team-mates for company.

Cavendish celebrates his 27th career Tour de France stage win (pic: Sirotti)

Sagan kicked first for the sprint, with an audacious long-range effort, but Cavendish was not to be denied and the Manx Missile stormed by to claim his 27th Tour de France stage win.

Kittel, who wore the yellow jersey in 2013 and 2014, trailed in second – a couple of bike length’s behind – but the day belonged to an elated Cavendish whose place in cycling legend is now surely assured.

Tour de France 2016: stage one – result

1) Mark Cavendish (GBR) – Dimension Data – 4.14.05hrs
2) Marcel Kittel (GER) – Etixx-QuickStep – ST
3) Peter Sagan (SVK) – Tinkoff
4) Andre Greipel (GER) – Lotto-Soudal
5) Edward Theuns (BEL) – Trek-Segafredo
6) Christophe Laporte (FRA) – Cofidis
7) Bryan Coquard (FRA) – Direct Energie
8) Alexander Kristoff (NOR) – Katusha
9) Daniel McLay (GBR) – Fortuneo-Vital Concept
10) Greg Henderson (NZL) – Lotto-Soudal

General classification

1) Mark Cavendish (GBR) – Dimension Data – 4.13.55hrs
2) Marcel Kittel (GER) – Etixx-QuickStep +4”
3) Peter Sagan (SVK) – Tinkoff +6”
4) Andre Greipel (GER) – Lotto-Soudal +10”
5) Edward Theuns (BEL) – Trek-Segafredo
6) Christophe Laporte (FRA) – Cofidis
7) Bryan Coquard (FRA) – Direct Energie
8) Alexander Kristoff (NOR) – Katusha
9) Daniel McLay (GBR) – Fortuneo-Vital Concept
10) Greg Henderson (NZL) – Lotto-Soudal

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