Updated: Sunday, 06 July 2014 06:00 | By Agence France-Presse

Cavendish dislocates collarbone as Kittel wins

British sprint king Mark Cavendish dislocated his collarbone in a crash as German Marcel Kittel won the opening stage of the Tour de France in Harrogate on Saturday.


Cavendish dislocates collarbone as Kittel wins

Germany's Marcel Kittel celebrates his yellow jersey received from Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge on the podium at the end of the 190.5 km first stage of the 101st edition of the Tour de France cycling race on July 5, 2014 - by Eric Feferberg

Cavendish, 29, had been aiming to win the 190.5km stage from Leeds to the town where his mother was born but his hopes came crashing down as he hit the deck in the sprint finish.

Cavendish and Australian champion Simon Gerrans collided as the Briton leaned into his 34-year-old rival, and as they fell they took down several other riders.

That left Kittel, 26, to outsprint Slovak Peter Sagan, the winner of the last three green jerseys at the Tour, and Ramunas Navardauskas of Lithuania for the victory.

Omega Pharma-Quick Step (OPQS) leader Cavendish was taken to hospital for X-rays and an ultrasound, which revealed that he had suffered no break but had an "acromioclavicular separation".

Cavendish later admitted the crash was entirely his doing.

"I'm gutted about the crash today. It was my fault. I'll personally apologise to Simon Gerrans as soon as I get the chance," said Cavendish, a winner of 25 Tour stages since 2008.

"In reality, I tried to find a gap that wasn't really there. I wanted to win today, I felt really strong and was in a great position to contest the sprint thanks to the unbelievable efforts of my team. Sorry to all the fans that came out to support -- it was truly incredible."

His team released a statement saying he had undergone tests on his right shoulder but that a decision on his participation for the rest of the Tour would be made on Sunday.

"The imaging underlined ligament ruptures with an AC-joint dislocation, which causes him a lot of pain. A final decision on his participation in tomorrow's stage will be taken tomorrow morning," said the statement.

Gerrans, whose jersey was ripped to shreds, seemed in good spirits despite the crash and refused to point the finger.

"I'm not exactly sure what happened just yet, I'll obviously be watching the replay when I get back to the hotel. I think it will be replayed over a few times," said the 34-year-old Australian, who held the yellow jersey for two stages last year.

The unfortunate incident deflected from Kittel's fine victory, the second year in a row he won the opening stage and rode himself into yellow.

"It was a great win and a very emotional victory," said Kittel.

"It was so hard. The hill in the last kilometre made it very difficult to win. There were so many people that we rode the finale like in a tunnel with a terrible noise. It's unbelievable that I win stage one again," added the 26-year-old Giant-Shimano sprinter.

The race attracted huge crowds with some, including twice former Tour winner Alberto Contador, claiming two million people lined the roads around Yorkshire.

Contador wrote on twitter: "More than 2.000.000 people along the stage, speechless with the welcome of the public. Thanks. #YorkshireGrandDepart #England #TDF."

Kittel spoke of an amazing atmosphere but said fans needed to be more safety conscious as they posed a threat to riders and themselves.

"There were some moments when I thought, now we will crash because the spectators were taking pictures and didn't see that they were in the centre of the road," he said.

"It's very important to tell people we are of course happy to have them there, they were an amazing crowd, it was really amazing to see them there, but they really have to take care of themselves and stay off the road and look after their children."

The stage had been given a royal send off from Leeds.

Prince William's wife Catherine cut the official start ribbon at the opening ceremony at Harewood House, just outside Leeds.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as well as Prince Harry spoke to several riders at the ceremony including British reigning champion Chris Froome, Cavendish, former Tour winners Contador and Andy Schleck, world champion Rui Costa, as well as the two other Brits in the peloton, Geraint Thomas and Simon Yates.

A band at the stately country home in Yorkshire played the national anthems of France and Britain while the famous Red Arrows, the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, flew overhead through blue and sunny skies.

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