Like a buffalo herd, today’s first stage of the Tour de France ended in a nervous, fast and furious charge. At the finish in Harrogate in Northern England, all 198 racers sprinted shoulder to shoulder at 38 miles-per-hour on a 15-foot wide road. Germany’s Marcel Kittel, who won last year’s Tour first day, won today’s sprint.
“There were so many people that we rode the finale like in a tunnel with a terrible noise,” Kittel said. “It’s unbelievable that I win stage 1 again.”
In the last two miles of the race, British sprinter Mark Cavendish head-bumped Aussie sprinter Simon Gerrans. The two crashed and and gimped over the finish line. Cav hurt his shoulder, and was lucky not to break it. Gerrans is okay too.
All riders were given the same finish time, so no one made any gains or losses in the overall standings. But stage winner Kittel gets to take home the leader’s yellow jersey and sprint points green jersey, which he will probably frame and put on his workout room wall or maybe donate to a local pub where in ten years no one outside of serious Tour fans will know his name. But let’s stick to the celebrations because Kittel is an amazing sprinter and deserves a big cheer.
Worth a note: Peter Sagan, whose devilish hairstyle we just love, finished second in Kittel’s slipstream today. Sagan aims to defend his 2012 and 2013 titles as the Tour’s sprint points champion. Pete: maybe you want to trim the top just a little for speed?