Cavendish completes jersey set with Tour de France yellow

Sat Jul 2, 2016 12:51pm EDT
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By Julien Pretot

UTAH BEACH, France (Reuters) - An emotional Mark Cavendish completed cycling's prestigious set of distinctive jerseys when he won the crash-marred first stage of the Tour de France on Saturday to take the overall leader's yellow jersey.

The Dimension Data rider outsprinted German Marcel Kittel and world champion Peter Sagan of Slovakia at the end of a 188km ride from Mont St Michel to near one of the D-Day beaches.

"I can't believe it. Regardless of who was there, the Tour de France is the Tour de France," Cavendish told reporters while one of the overall favorites, Alberto Contador, was licking his wounds following a crash.

"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, organizers and riders, including Cavendish, American Brent Bookwalter, German champion Andre Greipel, French champion Arthur Vichot, Belgian Greg van Avermaet and Canadian Antoine Duchesne paid tribute to the soldiers who died during the World War Two D-Day operations.

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

Cavendish, who now has 27 Tour stage wins to his name, held off his rivals after several opponents had been taken out of contention following a crash in the final straight.

Cavendish 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 (2010).   Continued...

Cycling - Tour de France cycling race - The 188-km (117 miles) 1st stage from Mont Saint-Michel to Utah Beach Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, France - 02/07/2016 - Team Dimension Data rider Mark Cavendish of Britain celebrates win on finish line.     REUTERS/Juan Medina