Mark Cavendish missed the chance to take the yellow jersey on stage 1 of the 2013 Tour de France. The Manxman was in the wrong place at the wrong time as a fall from his Omega Pharma Quick-Step (OPQS) team mate Tony Martin caused a pile up with less than 10km to go.
However, that was not the only drama on the opening day. With around 20km to go, and the peloton flying towards the finish, the Orica-GreenEDGE team bus got wedged under the finishing banner, prompting frantic efforts by race officials and police to move it before the riders arrived. When all efforts appeared to be in vein, the decision was taken by the race organisers to move the finish line to the 3km-to-go banner, however, this appeared to be a flawed one, as there was a large kink in the road roughly 30 metres from that banner.
The change in finish line prompted the riders to frantically fight for position on the narrow Corsican roads, and it was here that OPQS rider Tony Martin came unstuck. The German came off his bike, causing a 25 man pile up which also included Cannondale’s Slovakian green jersey contender Peter Sagan. Cavendish, fortunately, was able to avoid coming off his bike, but his hopes of contesting the bunch sprint at the end had been extinguished. Lotto Belisol sprinter Andre Greipel was also unable to contest the sprint finish when damage sustained during the crash caused him to pull up at the side of the road.
Overall contenders Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) were also held up by the crash, but they didn’t lose out as the organisers announced afterwards that all riders would be awarded the same time.
With the big guns out of the way, it was Argos Shimano’s Marcel Kittel that sprinted clear of the field to lead the general classification. Earlier in the day it was Juan Jose Lobato (Euskadi Euskaltel) who beat his 4 breakaway rivals to claim the polka-dot jersey at the top of the only categorised climb, with Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) claiming the green points jersey, and Danny van Poppel (Vacansoleil-DCM) taking the white young riders jersey.
There was some drama before the race had officially started, with Team Sky’s Chris Froome changing his bike after allegedly clipping a kerb on his way to the 0km banner.
Sunday’s 156km stage 2 takes the riders from Bastia, across the mountainous spine of Corsica to the finish in Ajaccio.