World champion Peter Sagan won stage two and took the overall leader’s yellow jersey on the Tour de France on Sunday after edging Sonny Colbrelli in a reduced sprint finish after a late crash in the peloton.
Overnight leader Fernando Gaviria came down in a mass high speed crash just 1.3km from the line, which Sagan and around 15 other riders avoided to set up a frantic finish.
Champion Chris Froome avoided a repeat of his first stage tumble, the Team Sky leader staying out of trouble as he goes in pursuit of a record-equalling fifth Tour triumph.
But another Briton Adam Yates was delayed by a fall and two of his Mitchelton Scott teammates were both also involved in separate falls.
Sagan, riding for Bora-Hansgrohe, edged a field of nine lined up for the final reckoning but had to deal with French specialist Arnaud Demarre and the Italian Colbrelli, who came within a hair’s breadth of the win with a daring last second wheel push to come second.
Germany’s Andre Greipel was fourth but never really involved in the struggle for first with the other three.
“It’s a great start for the fans,” said Sagan.
“Fernando won yesterday and now I’m the one with the yellow jersey,” it’s been exciting.
“I could see it was going to be a good year,” said Sagan, who was thrown off the Tour last year after being judged culpable of a fall that ended felw sprinter Mark Cavendish’s Tour.
The Slovak led the pack in the intermediate sprint behind solo escapee French veteran Sylvain Chavanel, and is now also top of the green jersey standings.
The race embarked in sizzling heat with local hero Chavanel of the Direct Energie team based in this Vendee Western France region being cheered all along some 155km of solo break.
Luis Leon Sanchez of Astana pulled out of the race after falling on a traffic island and getting up covered in cuts and climbing crying into the team car. Tsgabu Grmay of Ethiopia also pulled out.