Mark Cavendish puts in perfect sprint on opening stage to take his first ever Tour de France yellow jersey
- Alberto Contador and Geraint Thomas caught in crashes

Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) won the opening stage of the 2016 Tour de France at Utah Beach on Saturday.

Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep) placed second behind the Manxman, with world champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) in third. British Tour debutant Dan McLay (Fortuneo Vital Concept) finished in ninth.

The main general classification contenders, including defending champion Chris Froome (Sky), all finished in the main peloton.

With his 27th career victory in the race, Cavendish takes the race lead in the Tour for the first time. Kittel is second overall, with Sagan in third.

Mark Cavendish on the podium after winning Stage 1 and taking the first yellow jersey of the 2016 Tour de France (Watson)

Mark Cavendish on the podium after winning Stage 1 and taking the first yellow jersey of the 2016 Tour de France (Watson)

The day’s action was led by an early escape instigated by Paul Voss, Jan Barta (both Bora-Argon 18) and late Tour call-up Leigh Howard (IAM Cycling). The trio were later joined by Alex Howes (Cannondale-Drapac) and Anthony Delaplace (Fortuneo Vital Concept).

>>> Tour de France 2016: Latest news, reports and info

Voss attacked the escape to claim the King of the Mountains points on the day’s two categorised climbs, Côte d’Avranches and Côte des falaises de Champeaux. He earned the polka-dot jersey for his trouble.

With his climbing effort done, Voss dropped back to the break and was later the first to drop out and rejoin the peloton.

Alberto Contador suffered a high speed crash during Stage 1 of the 2016 Tour de France (Watson)

Alberto Contador suffered a high speed crash during stage one of the 2016 Tour de France (Watson)

Although the forecast rain did not materialise, a cross-tailwind did whip up the speed of the peloton. It was a quickening of the pace with around 80km to go that saw a crash result in Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) falling heavily. The Spanish contender sustained surface grazing to his right shoulder and required medical attention. Luke Rowe (Sky) and Brent Bookwalter (BMC) were also brought down.

>>> Alberto Contador crashes on stage one of the Tour de France (video)

Geraint Thomas (Sky) suffered a puncture shortly after Contador’s crash, and was part of the group that successfully chased back on.

Alex Howes and Anthony Delaplace in an escape on stage 1 of the 2016 Tour de France

Alex Howes and Anthony Delaplace in an escape on stage 1 of the 2016 Tour de France

The peloton slowed to allow the dropped riders to regain contact, giving the break a second chance. However, the day’s efforts began to show and only Howes and Delaplace were left inside the final 30km with an advantage of less than a minute. The lead pair shook hands with 5km to go, their day out front over.

The organisation of the sprinters’ teams largely fell apart during the final couple of kilometres, with no one team leading the charge. A crash in the finale took down a group of riders, including Geraint Thomas.

Cavendish put himself on the wheel of Sagan in the final half kilometre and then came around him to take the win by a convincing margin.

Due to the crash within the final kilometre, all riders in the peloton when the race hit 3km-to-go were awarded the same time at the finish.

Stage two of the 2016 Tour de France on Sunday takes the riders from Saint Lô to Cherbourg-en-Cotentin on a 183km route with a sting in the tail up the category three climb to the finish line.

Results

Tour de France 2016, stage one: Mont-Saint-Michel to Utah Beach Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, 188km
1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data in 4-14-05
2. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Etixx-QuickStep
3. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff
4. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Soudal
5. Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
6. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis
7. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct Energie
8. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
9. Daniel McLay (GBr) Fortuneo-Vital Concept
10. Greg Henderson (NZl) Lotto-Soudal all same time
Other
25. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky

General classification after stage one
1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data
2. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Etixx-QuickStep at 4 secs
3. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff at 6 secs
4. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Soudal at 10 secs
5. Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo at 10 secs
6. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis at 10 secs
7. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct Energie at 10 secs
8. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha at 10 secs
9. Daniel McLay (GBr) Fortuneo-Vital Concept at 10 secs
10. Greg Henderson (NZl) Lotto-Soudal at 10 secs
Other
25. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky

The peloton at the start of Stage 1 of the 2016 Tour de France

The peloton at the start of stage one of the 2016 Tour de France at Mont-Saint-Michel

Arthur Vichot, Peter Sagan, Chris Froome, Vincenzo Nibali, Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana before the start of Stage 1 of the 2016 Tour de France

Arthur Vichot, Peter Sagan, Chris Froome, Vincenzo Nibali, Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana before the start of stage one of the 2016 Tour de France

Chris Froome on stage 1 of the 2016 Tour de France

Chris Froome on stage 1 of the 2016 Tour de France

Mark Cavendish wins stage 1 of the 2016 Tour de France

Mark Cavendish wins stage 1 of the 2016 Tour de France