Tour of Britain: Marcel Kittel wins after Mark Cavendish crashes

Marcel Kittel wins Tour of Britain opening stage
Marcel Kittel won two of the three Tour de France Grand Depart stages that finished in Yorkshire and London

Germany's Marcel Kittel won a thrilling sprint finish in Liverpool in the opening stage of the Tour of Britain.

Italy's Nicola Ruffoni was second, ahead of Britain's Mark Cavendish, who contested the sprint despite crashing into a car early in the stage.

Defending champion Sir Bradley Wiggins, of Team Sky, finished in the peloton.

Cavendish, who hit a car while trying to avoid another car that braked suddenly, said: "I hit it with my left leg and I was down on the road."external-link

He added: "I felt immediately a lot of pain on my quadriceps.

"At that point I wasn't planning to sprint. But after a couple of laps we decided to just try anyway, but sprint seated because I was in pain.

"I still got third, but it's a shame because I really wanted to try and win in front of the British public. I really hope that the luck turns in the next days."

Giant-Shimano rider Kittel, 26, said: "It is good to win the first stage and to see the reaction from the crowd."

What will happen on stage two?
Tour of Britain stage two map
"The 200.8km route might look a little lumpy but the highest altitude the stage reaches is only 200m, so the climbs are not massive and they are not particularly long. There is an incline in the final couple of kilometres but sprinters like Mark Cavendish should make it over in contention. That's not to say it won't be a hard sprint and that's the kind I like."Read Ben Swift's guide to all nine stages

The eight-lap, 104.8km race around the city centre, which started on The Strand and continued into Sefton Park, was watched by thousands of spectators on a glorious day.

It had been expected to be a showdown between Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) - who has won 25 Tour de France stages - and sprint rival Kittel and the fans were not disappointed with the pair lunging for the line.

In the end Cavendish, 29, who said last week that he was not in peak condition as he continues to recover from shoulder surgery after crashing out of the Tour de France, did not quite have enough to get past Kittel.

Kittel clearly enjoys racing in Britain - he won two of the three Tour de France Grand Depart stages that finished in Yorkshire and London, on his way to winning four in the race.

He picked up 10 bonus seconds for winning the stage and leads the overall standings by one second from Italian Sonny Colbrelli, who was in the breakaway and picked up nine bonus seconds in intermediate sprints.

Wiggins, looking to become the first rider to win successive Tour of Britain titles since the race was reintroduced in 2004, began well and looked comfortable as he stayed at the heart of the peloton, finishing 74th.

Monday's second stage is a 200.8km race from Knowsley to Llandudno and the Tour then heads south through Wales and visits the south and west of England before ending with two stages in London on 14 September.

Stage 1 result:

1. Marcel Kittel (Ger/Giant-Shimano) 2hrs 16mins 35ses

2. Nicola Ruffoni (Ita/Bardiani) Same time

3. Mark Cavendish (GB/Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) Same time

4. Tyler Farrar (USA/Garmin-Sharp) Same time

5. Ben Swift (GB/Team Sky) Same time

6. Barry Markus (Fra/Belkin) Same time

7. Daniel McLay (GB/GBR) Same time

8. Heinrich Haussler (Aus/IAM Cycling) Same time

9. Nikolay Trusov (Rus/Tinkoff-Saxo)

10. Enrique Sanz Unzue (Spa/Movistar) Same time

Selected other:

74. Bradley Wiggins (GB/Team Sky) same time

Overall classification after stage 1:

1. Marcel Kittel (Ger/Giant-Shimano) 2hrs 16mins 35ses

2. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita/Bardiani) +1sec

3. Nicola Ruffoni (Ita/Bardiani) +4secs

4. Jonathan Mould (GB/NPC) Same time

5. Mark Cavendish (GB/OPQ) +6secs

6. Richard Handley (GB/RCS) +7secs

7. Tyler Farrar (USA/GRS) +10secs

8. Ben Swift (GB/Sky) Same time

9. Barry Markus (Fra/BEL) Same time

10. Daniel McLay (GB/GBR) Same time

Selected other:

76. Bradley Wiggins (GB/Sky) Same time