SAN DIEGO, June 29, 2012 – The world’s best riders on the world’s biggest stage began their quest to win the 100th edition of the Tour de France today.
The big victory of winning the Tour is made up of many smaller victories along the way, including the honor of being the first man to wear the maillot jaune, the yellow jersey, as the race leader.
German sprinter Marcel Kittel has that honor on behalf of Argos-Shimano. He also took the green jersey as the top sprinter in the race, and the white jersey as the best young rider. There was no polka dot jersey for the King of the Mountains today.
Kittel won due to skill, but also due to sheer survival after a crazy, crash filled first stage of the Tour.
The three leading sprinters expected to content for the first yellow jersey were not in the hunt. Mark Cavendish of Team Sky and Peter Sagan of Cannondale were taken out of the event by a crash with 2.9 miles to go. The crash was caused in part by the narrow roads in Corsica, site of the first stage. One of Cavendish’s Omega Pharma Quickstep teammates fell and the riders behind him went down, including Cavendish and Sagan. Sagan fell hard onto his left shoulder. He finished the race with a ripped jersey. Also finishing a bit roughed up was GC contender Alberto Contador.
Griepel of Lotto-Belisol escaped the crash, but had a mechanical problem a bit down the road and out of contention.
After four and a half uneventful hours of solid riding through the Corsican countryside, the race became chaotic in its last minutes. The Orica Green Edge team bus crashed into the finishing arch over the finish line with the riders just 15 miles away. When it seemed the bus might not be moved in time, race directors were told the finish would be at the three kilometer flag. Then with a last minute reprieve, it was back to the original finish line. It was at that point the riders went down and there were bigger problems.
Due to the issues and confusion, the riders who were left behind due to the crashes will receive the same time as the rest of the peloton, so none of the leaders will have lost significant time after the first stage.
Chris Froome of Team Sky and Cadel Evans of BMC both had minor mechanical issues near the start of the race, but finished without incident.
All riders apparently survived and will start Sunday’s Stage 2, which remains in Corsica. This stage features rolling hills that could do some surprising damage. It’s doubtful Kittel will wear the yellow jersey after stage two. Let’s see if a GC contender can make his mark early. See the route here.
In the meantime, let’s make sure all the bus drivers know the clearance height of the finishing line arch.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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