Germany’s Marcel Kittel of the Argos-Shimano team won the opening stage of the Tour de France on Saturday, a 213-kilometre ride from Porto-Vecchio to Bastia in Corsica.
Kittel stole in front of Norwegian rider Alexander Kristoff right on the line to win a Tour stage for the first time in his career, while Danny Van Poppel of the Vacansoleil team came in third as all riders were awarded the same time.
Kittel became the first rider to wear the yellow jersey in the 100th Tour, which continues on Sunday with a 156-kilometre second stage across Corsica from Bastia to Ajaccio.
The German, 25, also took the green jersey for the best sprinter and the white jersey for the best young rider. “I’m speechless, its unbelievable. I’m so, so happy. It’s absolutely the greatest day of my life,” he said.
“I think I showed that I belong with the best sprinters. The next two stages are not really the perfect profile for me to defend the yellow jersey, but I don’t want to think about the next couple of days now. I just want to enjoy this.”
Spain’s Alberto Contador, considered by many to be the main challenger to race favourite Chris Froome of Britain, was the highest-profile name to fall on the way into Bastia, as he went to ground in a mass crash that also took out Slovakia’s promising sprinter Peter Sagan. Contador injured his left shoulder. “I am OK. Now we will need to see how I feel tomorrow,” said Contador.