Cycling: Britain's Cavendish wins opening stage of Tour de France

Britain's Mark Cavendish celebrates as he crosses the finish line.
Britain's Mark Cavendish celebrates as he crosses the finish line.PHOTO: AFP

UTAH BEACH, France (REUTERS) - Britain's Mark Cavendish completed cycling's prestigious set of distinctive jerseys when he won the crash-marred first stage of the Tour de France on Saturday to take the overall leader's yellow jersey.

The Dimension Data rider outsprinted German Marcel Kittel and world champion Peter Sagan of Slovakia at the end of a 188km ride from Mont St Michel to near one of the D-Day beaches.

Cavendish, who now has 27 Tour stage wins to his name, held off his rivals after several opponents had been taken out of contention following a crash in the final straight.

 

Cavendish wore the world champion's rainbow jersey after winning the road race in 2011, the pink jersey for the Giro d'Italia leader (in 2009, 2011 and 2013) as well as the red jersey for the Vuelta leader (2010).

The Manxman also secured the green jersey for the points classification on the Tour de France (2011).

Alberto Contador, twice Tour winner and one of the race favourites, crashed with about 80km left, suffering bruises to his shoulder, elbow and groin.

"He's got bruises on his shoulder, his elbow and groin," a race doctor said after the Spaniard had his right shoulder taped.

"At first sight it does not look like he has suffered any fracture. We gave him a painkiller."