An emotional Mark Cavendish in the yellow jersey.
An emotional Mark Cavendish in the yellow jersey. KIM LUDBROOK

Missile fires home to take yellow jersey

CYCLING: Britain's Mark Cavendish took the yellow jersey for the first time at the Tour de France after winning stage one in a sprint finish ahead of rivals Marcel Kittel and world champion Peter Sagan as others crashed close to the line.

It was the Manx Missile's 27th stage victory on the tour.

Cavendish's win came after a number of crashes, one involving two-time champion Alberto Contador who went down 80 kilometres from the finish and completed the stage with bruises to his shoulder, elbow and groin.

Defending champion Chris Froome, escaped the crashes in the sprint finish to finish safely in 25th ahead of the second stage tonight, a 183km ride from St Lo to Cherbourg en Cotentin that features a tricky climb near the finish.

Cavendish, who has spent most of the year training in a bid to win an Olympic medal, was overcome with emotion.

"I can't believe it. Regardless of who was there, the Tour de France is the Tour de France," he said.

"To win a stage is incredible. I'm very emotional for it. It's going to be a special day tomorrow to ride a stage in yellow. There was no better place to achieve this than Utah Beach, where soldiers died for us."



After the podium ceremony, organisers and riders, including Cavendish, paid tribute to the soldiers who died during the World War Two D-Day operations at the finish of the stage at Utah Beach.

They laid white flowers by a war memorial in a brief ceremony.

Cavendish held off his rivals after several opponents had been taken out of contention following a crash in the final straight. He 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 in 2010.

He is third on the all-time list of Tour stage winners behind Belgian Eddy Merckx (34) and one shy of Frenchman Bernard Hinault's 28.

"I still have that desire, I still have that respect for the Tour de France," he said,