Tour de France: Mark Cavendish in yellow jersey after stage one victory

Mark Cavendish claimed the first stage of the 2016 Tour de France.

Only Bernard Hinault (28) and Eddy Merckx (34) have more stage wins than Cavendish’s 27

Mark Cavendish will wear the yellow jersey for the first time in his career after winning the 188km first stage of the 2016 Tour de France at Utah Beach.

The Manxman, 31, outsprinted rivals Marcel Kittel, Peter Sagan and Andre Greipel to secure his 27th stage win as riders crashed around them.

“To pull on the yellow jersey is an honour,” said Cavendish. “It’s going to be a special day tomorrow.”

Britain’s defending champion Chris Froome finished safely in 25th place.

Listen to the moment Mark Cavendish won stage one

Listen to BBC Radio 5 live’s podcast with reaction from day one

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Cavendish went into the race unsure of his own form after spending much of the year training on the track for a tilt at an Olympic medal in Rio.

He also said that wearing the yellow jersey had “never been a career target” but the emotion was clear to see when he punched the air as he crossed the finish line, as well as in the interviews that followed.

“It’s phenomenal,” he told ITV4. “It was a big goal. We came here with the hope of doing it. We wanted this.

“There is no bigger icon in cycling than the yellow jersey. I’m quite emotional.”

Read Geraint Thomas’ guide to stage two

Cavendish beat rival Kittel for the first time in a head-to-head sprint and also saw off the challenge of his fellow German Greipel.

They all finished with the same time, but Cavendish picked up 10 bonus seconds for winning the stage, putting him four ahead of Kittel, who got six bonus seconds for being the runner-up.

He becomes the third British rider, after David Millar and Sir Bradley Wiggins, to wear the leader’s jersey on all three Grand Tours – the other two being the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana.

Cavendish is also just one victory behind Frenchman Bernard Hinault’s tally of 28 stage wins, and seven behind the all-time record of legendary Belgian Eddy Merckx.

How did Froome and his rivals fair?

Two-time winner Froome was largely anonymous and that is the way both he and Team Sky would have wanted the stage to unfold as he looks to become the first man in 20 years to win successive titles.

However, the same could not be said for Spain’s Alberto Contador, also twice a Tour de France winner, who needed medical attention after a crash midway through the stage.

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Contador (left) was paced back to the peloton by his Tinkoff team-mates

Contador, who won the 2007 and 2009 editions of the three-week race, slid off on a right-hand corner, landing heavily on his right shoulder. After finishing the stage in the peloton he said: “It’s not the best way to start. I’m bruised all down along my right side from my ankle up but at least I don’t have to go home.”

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Contador (second right) also had to change his right shoe after the crash

Other riders chasing the overall victory – such as Colombia’s Nairo Quintana, who finished 72 seconds behind Froome in 2015, and Italy’s Fabio Aru – kept in touch on a day when cross-winds threatened to split the peloton.

Last year, Quintana finished around 90 seconds behind Froome on a similar stage where he got distanced because of cross-winds but the Movistar rider had clearly learned his lesson, keeping close to the front of the race along a 70km stretch down the coast.

How did the stage unfold?

A total of 198 riders from 22 teams started Saturday’s opening stage from Mont Saint-Michel to Utah Beach in Normandy.

Five riders made an immediate break and they built up a maximum advantage of four minutes over the peloton.

However, just two of the five, local rider Anthony Delaplace and American Alex Howes, were left when they were caught inside the final five kilometres.

Welsh cyclist Geraint Thomas, who will be one of Froome’s key helpers throughout the race, emerged unscathed from a crash in the sprint finish.

Britain’s Daniel McLay, riding in his first Tour, bypassed the crash to finish ninth.

Sunday’s stage two is a 183km race from Saint-Lo – Cherbourg-en-Cotentin. There will be live text commentary on the BBC Sport website from 12:00 BST and live radio commentary from 15:00 BST.

Stage one result:

1. Mark Cavendish (GB/Dimension Data) 4hrs 14mins 05secs

2. Marcel Kittel (Ger/Etixx – Quick-Step) Same time

3. Peter Sagan (Svk/Tinkoff)

4. Andre Greipel (Ger/Lotto)

5. Edward Theuns (Bel/Trek)

6. Christophe Laporte (Fra/Cofidis)

7. Bryan Coquard (Fra/Direct Energie)

8. Alexander Kristoff (Nor/Katusha)

9. Daniel McLay (GB/Fortuneo)

10. Greg Henderson (NZ/Lotto) +3secs

General classification after stage one:

1. Mark Cavendish (GB/Dimension Data) 4hrs 13mins 55secs

2. Marcel Kittel (Ger/Etixx – Quick-Step) +4secs

3. Peter Sagan (Svk/Tinkoff) +6secs

4. Andre Greipel (Ger/Lotto) +10secs

5. Edward Theuns (Bel/Trek) Same time

6. Christophe Laporte (Fra/Cofidis)

7. Bryan Coquard (Fra/Direct Energie)

8. Alexander Kristoff (Nor/Katusha)

9. Daniel McLay (GB/Fortuneo)

10. Greg Henderson (NZ/Lotto) +13secs

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/36693065

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