A guide to the Tour de France
2nd July 2016
Cavendish took a brilliant victory today, beating Marcel Kittel, Peter Sagan, and André Greipel fair and square.
As expected, Stage 1 of the 2016 Tour de France from Mont Saint-Michel to Utah Beach came down to a bunch sprint on the Channel coast in Normandy. There was a crash in the last 500m, when a Katusha rider hit a barrier on the side of the road, and brought down a number of other riders. However, it happened behind the leading riders, who contested the win.
Mark Cavendish was on the right hand side of the road, following a Lotto Soudal rider, and had Kittel on his wheel. Sagan was the first to make a move, and when he did so, he veered over to the right. Cavendish made a big effort, and got on his wheel. In the meantime, Kittel moved left, with Greipel following him. Cavendish came round Sagan, and in a straight race with Kittel, the Manxman was the faster, taking the stage by a bike-length. With bonus seconds on the day, Cavendish takes the first yellow jersey of this year's Tour.
This video shows the sprint finish:
In the run-up to the bunch sprint, the last two members of the day's breakaway (Anthony Delaplace of Fortuneo-Vital Concept, and Alex Howes of Cannondale) were caught, with 5km remaining. There was never a chance that they would make it to the finish, and the peloton let them dangle off the front until they decided to catch the duo.
In the final kilometres, the bunch was led by Lotto-Soudal and Etixx-Quick-Step. Lotto-Jumbo were also present near the front, with Dylan Groenewegen, as was Mark Cavendish. The speed increased, the crash happened, and the favourites competed to be first over the line.
Mark Renshaw was with Cavendish in the final stages, and celebrated as his teammate came out on top.
Cavendish told ITV4 that it was 'phenomenal'. He said he had done it for his team, and for the Qhubeka charity, which is aiming to get 5,000 people on bicycles in Africa. 'It's going to be a special, special day tomorrow,' he added. He looked delighted on the podium at Utah Beach.
Earlier, Paul Voss (Bora-Argon) took the two King of the Mountains points available on the day, and he now wears the polka-dot jersey, as the leader of that competiton. He was in the day's breakaway, and went out ahead of his breakaway companions before the first climb, the Côte d'Avranches. He was then able to stay ahead until the second and final climb, the Côte des falaises de Champeaux.
CyclingNews has the full race results and overall standings.
These are the highlights of Stage 1:
The 2016 Tour de France begins at Mont St Michel, in the Manche département of France. It tackles the Pyrenees before the Alps, and as always there's a final processional stage to Paris.
Stage 2 starts in St-Lô, and makes its way through the Normandy countryside, known as the bocage Normand. Villages along the way include Hambye, Montpinchon, and the town of Coutances. The second part of the stage is alongside dunes on the Channel coast, through St-Germain-sur-Ay, Portbail, Barneville-Carteret, and Les Pieux. The climax of the race is at Cherbourg: after visiting the port, the riders must tackle a 3km, 14% gradient, climb of la Glacerie to the finish line. This could suit a puncheur, rather than an out-and-out sprinter, and it's not out of the question that there could be some time gaps amongst the GC contenders. Read about Stage 2, Tour de France 2016.
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