The Tour de France’s sprinters were denied match up in day one due to a series of crashes and mishaps today on the roads to Bastia. Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) won the stage, leaving Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) unable to fulfil his dream of wearing the yellow jersey.
“I didn’t crash. The guy behind me crashed,” Cavendish said, remarking on a crash at four kilometres out.
“What caused the problems was changing the finish. Like, we heard on the radio with literally 5K to go that the sprint was in 2K and then a K [kilometre] later, they were like ‘No, it’s at the finish.’ It’s just carnage.”
The race jury shifted the line from its original position to three kilometres remaining due to the Orica-GreenEdge team bus being stuck under the finishing gantry. Jury president, Vicente Tortajada Villarroya then moved it back to its scheduled place once the bus was freed.
Crashes followed, catching out Cavendish, André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale). Greipel was left standing in the road with his chain dislodged and in need of new bike. Sagan went flying, coming home the worst of the three. He roughed his left shoulder, and both knees.
“The Hulk will recover quickly,” Sagan told waiting journalists and around 100 fans outside his team bus.
“We knew that the stage could be like that, but luckily we all finished on the same time and the other sprinters weren’t able to sprint.”
Cavendish, Sagan and others missed out on the yellow jersey and green jersey points. Kittel took the stage win and the yellow jersey, but also 45 green points.
The other potential green jersey winners placed much further back or failed to figure at all in the top 15 to take points. Greipel, Cavendish and Sagan, in that order, took points behind the five-man escape at the intermediate sprint to pick up minor points.
Bigger yet was the chance to wear the yellow jersey. Cavendish called the jersey an iconic symbol in sport and a childhood dream, but may have to forget it for this year.
Stage two and, even more so, stage three suit The Hulk.
Cavendish’s train also took a hit: Gert Steegmans and Tony Martin crashed.
“[Martin] has a concussion and a contusion on his left lung. He also has soft tissue damage on his hip, chest, left knee and shoulder, and also on his back,” read a team press release. “Furthermore, he has a very deep wound 5cm wide on his left elbow that reaches his muscles, which causes a lot of pain and a problem moving his arm.”
Omega Pharma is waiting to decide if he will start tomorrow’s stage from Bastia to Corsica’s south in Ajaccio.
Johnny Hoogerland takes a tumble into an advertiser’s banner
Ian Stannard picks himself back up after a crash