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MailTribune.com
  • CYCLING

    Thrills, spills highlight Tour de France first stage

  • HARROGATE, England — Mark Cavendish went down in a late crash. Marcel Kittel's hands went up in victory. And British royals who turned out for the Tour de France debut in England witnessed new signs of a changing of the guard among two of the world's top sprinters.
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  • HARROGATE, England — Mark Cavendish went down in a late crash. Marcel Kittel's hands went up in victory. And British royals who turned out for the Tour de France debut in England witnessed new signs of a changing of the guard among two of the world's top sprinters.
    For many British fans, with cycling's greatest race making a rare start in England on Saturday, Stage 1 wasn't supposed to end this way: They wanted British speedster Cavendish to get his first race leader's yellow jersey and 26th career Tour stage win after the 190.5-kilometer (118-mile) ride through Yorkshire countryside.
    But with the pack swelling in intensity and his rivals up front as the finish neared, Cavendish leaned his head to his left into Australia's Simon Gerrans, and their bikes tumbled to the ground — with the Briton coming down hard.
    Germany's Kittel then made it look easy by dusting three other rivals at the finish. Cavendish got up gingerly and cruised across, cradling his right arm, and got into an ambulance. Tests showed a separated right shoulder. His team said it'll be decided this morning if Cavendish rides in Stage 2 from York to Sheffield.
    Contrite despite the pain, Cavendish said he was "gutted" about the crash.
    "It was my fault. I'll personally apologize to Simon Gerrans as soon as I get the chance. In reality, I tried to find a gap that wasn't really there. I wanted to win today," he said in a statement. "Sorry to all the fans that came out to support — it was truly incredible."
    Kittel, a 26-year-old rising star in sprinting, won four Tour stages last year, to Cavendish's two.
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