Germany’s Marcel Kittel began the 101st edition of the Tour de France the way he did last year’s event by winning the opening stage.
The day’s ride took the peloton over 190.5 kilometres from Leeds to Harrogate in England.
After an early break was caught all the main contenders were up for the sprint to the line.
It was a sprint finish marred by a collision between Mark Cavendish and Australian Simon Gerrans with both men hitting the deck hard.
Out in front the mad dash to the line continued and Kittel managed to comfortably hold off the fierce challenges of Cannondale’s Peter Sagan of Slovakia and Garmin’s Lithuanian rider Ramunus Navardauskus.
After the race was won focus returned to Cavendish who was sprawled out on the final stretch.
After being helped by team doctors the former world champion eventually crossed the line but was taken to hospital shortly after and could now miss the rest of the Tour with a suspected broken right collarbone.
Defending champion Chris Froome made a bright start and crossed over in sixth.
Sunday’s second stage stays in England and takes the bunch over 201 kilometres from York to Sheffield.
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