Marcel Kittel shouldn't get too comfortable with that yellow jersey just yet. After a somewhat comfortable win in Stage 1, he'll have his stamina put to the test in Stage 2 on Sunday.
Sprinters like Kittel were always bound to have the strongest finishes on the opening day of the 2014 Tour de France. The trek from Leeds to Harrogate was relatively easy, with none of the three climbs averaging a grade higher than 7.1 percent, according to the Tour de France's official website.
"I am incredibly proud of this victory," Kittel said after the stage, per The Associated Press, via ESPN.com. "It happened pretty easily. It was like coming out of a tunnel. I was able to accelerate like never before."
Kittel's win was made a little bit more special with the Duchess of Cambridge herself, Kate Middleton, there to present the yellow jersey, per the Tour's Twitter account:
Sunday promises to be a completely different beast, though. Stage 2 features nine different mountain passes and hills, compared to three for Stage 1. Rather than the sprinters, the puncheurs will likely reign supreme.
Distance: 201 kilometers
TV Info: NBC Sports Network (US); ITV4 (UK)
Aside from Kittel's yellow jacket, the biggest story from Stage 1 was Mark Cavendish's crash in the final 250 meters. The 29-year-old entered as one of the top contenders, but his Tour de France may be over just as it started.
Cavendish was taken to the hospital on Saturday afternoon:
According to BBC Radio 5 Live, he suffered serious ligament damage, which puts his participation in the rest of the race in doubt:
The crash began when Cavendish—in his haste to sprint to the finish line—pushed Simon Gerrans. You can see the incident below, per James Dart of The Guardian:
He took full blame after the stage was completed, per Sky Sports Cycling:
Still, that accident couldn't mar what was a thrilling first stage, made all the more exciting by the outpouring of fan support all along the route. The Tour de France doesn't often hit Great Britain, with the last time coming in 2007, so the fans throughout the island made sure to catch a glimpse of the race.
Alberto Contador took to social media to thank those in attendance:
Expect the same kind of crowds on Sunday:
Some racers will need all the positive support they can get in order to complete what will be a long, arduous stage. While this will be nothing compared to the mountain ranges to come in France, the hilly countryside will be a stark contrast to what Stage 1 featured.
Eighteen of the 201 kilometers will be run at least an average 6.1 percent grade, including 0.8 kilometers near the end that boast a 10.8 percent grade, according to the Tour's official website. So much for an easy ride to the finish line.
This could be the time for some of the more unknown riders to make an early statement and get near the top of the standings, if only for a brief period. Of course, the opposite could be true for many others, with the weak getting trimmed from the herd, so to speak.
It's still early enough that you can't count anybody out, though.
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