HARROGATE England (Reuters) – Massive crowds greeted the cream of world cycling in the Yorkshire countryside on Saturday as the Tour de France began in style but some riders said their enthusiasm was dangerous.
The 190.5-km stage from Leeds to Harrogate was hailed a huge success by race director Christian Prudhomme as an estimated two million people took to the hills and lanes.
HARROGATE England (Reuters) – Mark Cavendish was supposed to blast to victory on the first stage of the Tour de France in his mother’s home town but a horror crash put him in hospital and left German Marcel Kittel celebrating on Saturday.
The 29-year-old Briton slammed into the tarmac within sight of the finish and, although he limped over the line, a medical bulletin said he had dislocated his right shoulder, putting his further participation in the race in doubt.
HARROGATE England (Reuters) – Germany’s Marcel Kittel is making a habit of finishing the first day of the Tour de France wearing the leader’s yellow jersey after he again sprinted to victory on Saturday.
The Giant-Shimano team catapulted him to the front in the final 50 metres of the 190.5-km stage and he outpaced Slovakia’s Peter Sagan in a burst to the line.
HARROGATE England (Reuters) – German Marcel Kittel powered to victory in the opening stage of the Tour de France on Saturday while Britain’s Mark Cavendish crashed heavily in the final straight.
Kittel, who also won the first stage last year, took the overall leader’s yellow jersey after easily outsprinting Slovakian Peter Sagan and Lithuanian Ramunas Navardauskas.
HARROGATE England (Reuters) – The 101st Tour de France rolled out of Leeds for the start of the first stage on Saturday with hundreds of thousands of fans lining the route across the Yorkshire Dales to Harrogate.
With Tour fever gripping Yorkshire and the sun out for the 190.5-km opener, Team Sky’s defending champion Chris Froome was roared off as the cream of world cycling left Leeds city center before making their way to the official start at Harewood House.
LEEDS England (Reuters) – “So Good It’s Coming Twice” boasts the sign on the road into Addingham, a village just a few kilometers of pedaling from Leeds.
This year’s Tour de France, which begins on Saturday morning before spending two days traversing the hills and valleys of the county of Yorkshire, will pass through Addingham, as the sign points out, not once, but twice.
LEEDS England (Reuters) – The peloton will breathe a collective sigh of relief if it makes it through the first five days of this year’s Tour de France unscathed, according to French hope Thibaut Pinot.
Race director Christian Prudhomme thinks the opening stage from Leeds to Harrogate through the Yorkshire Dales on Saturday will be the toughest start since the race began in the Pyrenees in the last 1970s.
LEEDS England (Reuters) – Green jersey hopeful Peter Sagan will have a grizzly bear watching his back in the Tour de France this year.
The Slovakian, expected to battle Britain’s Mark Cavendish for the opening stage win in Harrogate on Saturday, and his eight Cannondale team mates have had their bikes custom-painted with animal motifs or super-heroes.
LEEDS England (Reuters) – By his own admission Alberto Contador was not in the same race as Chris Froome on last year’s Tour de France, but the rejuvenated Spaniard will be gunning for the Briton’s yellow jersey when the 2014 race begins on Saturday.
El Pistolero (gunslinger) still managed fourth in the general classification in 2013, but after scoring a psychological victory over the Briton in the recent Criterium du Dauphine he is relishing a fight all the way to Paris.
LEEDS England (Reuters) – Sprint king Mark Cavendish has warned that nothing is guaranteed in cycling after being installed as hot favorite to claim the yellow jersey after the opening stage of the Tour de France in Harrogate on Saturday.
The 29-year-old, third on the all-time list for stage wins in the Tour de France, has never worn the leader’s jersey despite enjoying 25 victories that have helped make him a household name.