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Kittel was one of a number of riders felled in the incident at the back of the peloton after just 20km, which also took down British rider Steve Cummings (Dimension Data) and mountains classification leader Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb).
Kittel suffered scuff and cuts to his right shoulder in the fall, and was left to make his own way back up to the peloton after the incident. Immediately after the crash, his green jersey rival and the previous day’s stage winner Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) was part of a large 30+ rider escape group.
Television pictures showed that Cummings suffered a rip across the back of his shorts, revealed quite a bit of his lower physique. He later had the rip tidied up with some safety pins.
All riders remounted and got back into the race.
The incident served to shake up the peloton early in the high mountains stage which features four classified climbs, including the category one Col du Télégraphe, and hors categorie Col de la Croix de Fer and Col du Galibier.
A battle between the general classification contenders is expected, as well as a fight for both green jersey points and mountains points.
Update: Kittel subsequently abandoned the race at the top of the Col de la Croix de Fer.