Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) won the opening stage of the Tour de France 2016 and with the victory took the first yellow jersey of his career.
Cavendish had had two previous shots at the yellow jersey after the 2013 and 2014 editions of the race also kicked off with sprint stages and so it was his third opportunity to get the most coveted jersey in today’s opening stage in the Normandy flatlands. In both previous stages, he had been taken out by bad luck and he was keen on getting his revenge in the 2016 edition.
The British rider had flown under the radar as everybody was talking about Marcel Kittel and André Greipel for the opening stage and so there wasn’t a huge amount of pressure on his shoulders when it all came down to the expected bunch sprint. However, he proved that he still has what it takes to win as he rode to an impressive victory in a direct battle with Kittel.
A brief crosswind attack at the midpoint and a crash for Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) had been the dramatic highlights on a day that was calmer than expected despite the windy conditions. It was always apparent that it was going to be a bunch sprint and things were on track for the big battle when the final two escapees were caught with 5km to go.
Maximilano Richeze did the lead-out for Kittel and dropped the German off. However, it was a bit too early and he lost position when Mark Renshaw hit the front, without having Cavendish on his wheel. Greg Henderson took over for Lotto Soudal but he had lost Greipel too and instead he had Cavendish behind him.
Cavendish reacted quickly when Sagan launched a long sprint while Kittel had to start from far back. While the German started to pass the world champion, Cavendish stayed out of the wind and then launched his sprint. He easily came around Sagan and as Kittel was fading, he put metres into the German who had to settle for second. Sagan narrowly held off Greipel who came from far back to take fourth.
A big crash in the finale saw Michael Mørkøv (Katusha), Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18) hit the deck. The incident also took Groenewegen out of contention but the Dutchman didn’t go down.
Cavendish now leads the race with a four-second advantage over Kittel. He won’t have much of a chance to defend his jersey as the riders face the first climbing tomorrow. A lumpy start with three category 4 climbs leads to a flat middle section before the terrain again gets hillier. In the final 10km, the riders first face an uncategorized climb and the category 3 Cote de La Glacerie (1.9km, 6.5%) whose top comes just 1.5km from the finish. Then the road levels out until the road tamps up at 5.7% for 700m.
Tour de France 2016 – stage 1 results (Mont-Saint-Michel – Utah Beach Sainte-Marie-du-Mont):
|1||Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data)||
|2||Marcel Kittel (Etixx – Quick-Step)||,,|
|3||Peter Sagan (Tinkoff)||,,|
|4||Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal)||,,|
|5||Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo)||,,|
|6||Cristophe Laporte (Cofidis)||,,|
|7||Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie)||,,|
|8||Alexander Kristoff (Katusha)||,,|
|9||Daniel Mclay (Fortuneo – Vital Concept)||,,|
|10||Gregory Henderson (Lotto Soudal)||,,|
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alberto contador dimension data maillot jaune marcel kittel mark cavendish Peter Sagan results stage 1 Tour de France yellow jersey