The 100th Tour de France rolled out today embracing not history, but novelty. Rather than honoring the races’ history by starting in an original stage city, or honoring more recent traditions by having a prologue, the race began on the island of Corsica, a place the Tour had never visited before. 

Cannondale Pro Cycling was keen on this first stage, a 212 km road stage from Porto Vecchio to Bata. The team for the Tour is built around Slovak sprinting sensation Peter Sagan, the defending champion of the Green Jersey, the Maillot Vert, and the color of the leader of the points competition.  This stage offered two opportunities for him to turn on the speed and acquire points to once again wear the Green Jersey into Paris. With fellow fast men Mark Cavendish of Omega Pharma-Quickstep and Andre Greipel of Lotto-Belisol, in great form and also recently crowned champions of Britain and Germany respectively, the finish was likely a battle royale.

Sagan is in fine form, having just won Slovakia's national championship race and retaining the Slovak national champion's jersey. Supporting him on the team is a combination of lead out men and rouleurs, with a few climbers to give the team a few extra cards to play in the mountains. Team members are: Maciej Bodnar, Paolo Longo Borghini, Alessandro De Marchi, Ted King, Kristijan Koren, Moreno Moser, Fabio Sabatini, and Brian Vandborg.

But before the finish was even on the horizon, there was a race to be had. True to form, a move burst out of the peloton only 3km into the stage. Five men headed out in the hopes of fooling the peloton into letting them go.

The break worked hard to establish themselves, and were given almost a five minute gap. But with the winner of the stage guaranteed the Maillot Jaune of race leader, none of the sprinter teams would let the move go far.

The break was still out when the intermediate sprint came up. They sapped up X places, while behind Cannondale led out Sagan. Both Greipel and Cavendish took advantage of Cannondale's work, and they were one-two in the field, with Sagan in third. Ten points for Greipel, nine for Cavendish, eight for Sagan. Points ceded for the Green, but the race is long.

With 36km remaining, the break could resist the pressure of the field no longer and were reabsorbed. Omega Pharma came to the front for Cavendish, Cannondale for Sagan, and the general classification teams came to the front for safety. The speed, as a result, ramped up.

The race got faster as the finish line approached. Not only could the riders sense the kilometers ticking off, but the roads were getting narrower and curvier. As the race hit fever pitch with 10km to go, Cannondale raced to the front for Sagan. Unfortunately, at the same time, a team bus wedged itself under the scaffolding for the finish line banner.  There was discussion of finishing the race at the 3km- to-go-point, the place at which times are taken in case there's a crash and the fallen riders are given the same time as the people they were with at the moment of the crash.

Then three kilometers from the three-3km-to-go-point, a crash happened at the front of the peloton. Cavendish went down. Sagan went down. Greipel stayed up but his skid destroyed his tire.

Shortly after, the bus was moved out from under the finish line banner and the original finish was restored.  The race continued flying towards the original finish without the expected protagonists.

From out of the chaos, German Marcel Kittel of Argos-Shimano kept cool and protected, and out sprinted Katusha's Norwegian Alexander Kristoff and the Netherland's Danny Van Poppel of Vacansoleil. As a result of the confusion over the finish line and the crash, the stage standings stood, but everyone who finished was given the same time as the winner.  Kittel’s  finish gave him the Yellow Jersey as race leader, the Green Jersey as points leader, and the White Jersey as best young rider.

Sagan rolled in to the finish line off the back and surrounded by most of his teammates. As he had lost only skin, the hope of riding into Yellow and Green are still possibilities for tomorrow. Asked about the crash, he replied, "I think I'm ok. I can't wait until tomorrow. The team was at the front for me and then there was the crash. I went down. I was hit when I was down. But there are only cuts on the back and legs." Teammate Ted King was absent from the Sagan train. He had gone down several kilometers earlier in a crash that also included Moreno Moser. Moser got back up and into the race. King was behind. It's feared the Tour rookie has injured his collarbone.

While there are inhabitants of the all-important leaders' jerseys, Stage Two begins tomorrow with everyone still on the same time.  The race covers 156km from Bastia to Ajaccio. This second-ever Corsican stage is mountainous, with the pure sprinters almost certainly falling off the pace. It is also the kind of stage that Peter Sagan excels at; there's lots of climbing, but it's not the high mountains. Stage Two could be his.

 

2013 Tour de France Stage One

Porto Vecchio to Basta 212km

 

Stage Results

1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano                  in     4:56:52             
2. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha                     at     same time
3. Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM                      same time
4. David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Sharp                                     same time
5. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma.-Quick-Step               same time

 

Stage Results Cannondale

143. Moreno Moser (Ita)                                                        same time
153. Alan Marangoni (Ita)                                                       same time                     
154. Maciej Bodnar (Pol)                                                        same time                     
155. Peter Sagan (Svk)                                                            same time                     
156. Brian Vandborg (Den)                                                    same time                     
157. Fabio Sabatini (Ita)                                                          same time                     
158. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita)                                             same time
187. Kristjan Koren (Slo)                                                       same time
197. Edward King (USA)                                                       same time

General Classification

1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano                          4:56:52             
2. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha                             same time
3. Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM                      same time
4. David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Sharp                                     same time
5. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step                same time                     
           

General Classification Cannondale

143. Moreno Moser (Ita)                                                        same time
153. Alan Marangoni (Ita)                                                       same time                     
154. Maciej Bodnar (Pol)                                                        same time                     
155. Peter Sagan (Svk)                                                            same time                     
156. Brian Vandborg (Den)                                                    same time                     
157. Fabio Sabatini (Ita)                                                          same time                     

158. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita)                                             same time

187. Kristjan Koren (Slo)                                                       same time
197. Edward King (USA)                                                       same time

Points Classification

1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano                          45 pts
2. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha                             35         
3. Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM                      30         
4. David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Sharp                                      26         
5. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step                22       
20. Peter Sagan (Svk)  Cannondale                                   08