Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team made the most out of a chaotic finish at the end of 213km Stage 1, after a team bus crashing into a banner at the finish and was stuck — only to be moved after the finale was then adjusted — and a crash happened inside the final kilometers that took several of the top sprinters in the peloton out of the contention through falling, mechanicals, or simply having to brake.
Niki Terpstra of OPQS attacked with the peloton scrambling to the finish inside the Flamme Rouge, but was caught in the final meters. Matteo Trentin was the top finisher for OPQS in 5th place as Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) won the stage, with Alexander Kristoff (Katusha Team) 2nd and Danny Van Poppel (Vacansoleil-DCM) 3rd.
“I didn’t crash luckily, I was just behind the crash,” Cavendish said. “The stage wasn’t too bad, not too different from what is normal at the Tour de France. What caused the problems is there was a change in the finish. We heard it on the radio with literally 5km to go that the sprint was in 2km. About a kilometer later when heading to the finish it was just carnage. “
“I think the majority of the favorites for today’s stage were caught up,” Cavendish said. “Luckily I didn’t go down. I was behind it. I’d seen my teammates end up a lot worse off. Tony Martin is in a bit of a state here. I can count myself lucky. It’s not as bad as it could be for me, but my bigger concern is my teammates who were not so lucky.“
“Actually when I heard the crash behind me, I looked behind me and didn’t see my teammates anymore,” Terpstra said. “Only Matteo. I asked Matteo again if he saw Mark and he said no, he may have crashed. When I saw a good moment I just went because the guys who were leading the group were not going so fast anymore. They were tired. I knew the corner in the last kilometer was like a chicane you could take full gas. So I just tried it and went. It was a nice gap. I didn’t expect it like that. But then, a kilometer can still be really long.”
“We were maybe 4 or 4.5km to go,” Trentin said. “I heard a crash just behind me and when I looked back, I saw that Gert was not still on my wheel but we really don’t know if Cav is still there or not. So we waited and at least after 500m I heard from Brian Holm on the radio that Cavendish was stuck behind the crash.”
“So I was there with Niki. I was on the wheel,” Trentin continued. “After some fighting I arrived on the wheel of Kittel or another Argos-Shimano rider and I said to Niki ‘OK, I’ll try to stay here.’ So, he tried to attack. Being alone in the sprint is not something usual for me so I had a lot of guys fighting with me as I am not a big sprinter. Finally I moved — a bit too early of course, but it was really the only possibility in my position. Because I was coming from the back. I adjusted right when Sieberg started to make the leadout for Henderson. When I jumped on the wheel of Henderson, I knew Sieberg can go from far away. Maybe 350m to go or something like this I waited a little bit, but at that moment you have to go. Because from the back they came faster. So I made my sprint at 350m to go. I knew already it was too far away. So, I tried it and it was probably the best solution. I’m happy about my sprint but of course not happy for Cav, and for Tony who crashed.”