Skip to main content

Tour de Farce as finish to the first stage disrupted by errant team bus

By Paul Gittings, CNN
updated 1:34 PM EDT, Sat June 29, 2013
The Orica GreenEdge team bus is trapped under the finishing line of the first stage of the Tour de France
The Orica GreenEdge team bus is trapped under the finishing line of the first stage of the Tour de France
  • Chaos on opening stage of Tour de France in Corsica
  • Team bus becomes trapped under the finishing gantry
  • Crash in the run to the finish claims Mark Cavendish, Peter Sagan and Alberto Contador
  • Marcel Kittel of the Argos Shimano team wins the sprint to claim the yellow jersey

(CNN) -- The opening stage of the Tour de France in Corsica Saturday descended into chaos after a team bus became trapped under the finishing gantry in Bastia.

As organizers desperately tried to free the bus, the 213km leg from Porto-Vecchio was initially shortened to finish at the three kilometers to go mark.

With teams trying to bring their star sprinters to the front of the peloton earlier than expected, a big crash saw Britain's Mark Cavendish and Slovakian Peter Sagan and some of the race favorites held up.

Cycling for a better future
Becoming a Tour de France champ
How has cycling recovered?
Can cycling beat the cheats?

At the same time, the bus, belonging to Australian team Orica GreenEdge was finally removed and the original finish line was reinstated.

From the depleted pack, Germany's Marcel Kittel won a frantic sprint to claim the stage honors for Argos Shimano -- his first win on the Tour de France.

Read: Doping past haunts centenary edition of Tour

Orica GreenEdge's Matt Goss took a tumble in that sprint to end his hopes with another top contender, Andre Greipel, the victim of a mechanical problem, to leave the way clear for the in-form Kittel to take the first yellow jersey of the 100th edition of the Tour.

He edged out Norway's Alexander Kristoff with Danny Van Poppel of the Vacansoleil team in third place.

The bus incident also affected the race's electronic timing function, but the official Tour de France website announced that because of the incident all the riders would be awarded the same time.

Among the favorites for the overall classification, Team Sky's Chris Froome emerged unscathed, but arch-rival Alberto Contador of the Saxo-Tinkoff team finished with a torn jersey and time trial specialist Tony Martin of Germany suffered a reported broken collarbone.

Read: Cavendish dons Maglia Rosa after Naples win

Cavendish, who was looking to add to his 23 career stage wins in the Tour, was critical of organizers after seeing his hopes dashed in the crash.

"What caused the problems was changing the finish. We heard on the radio with literally five kilometers to go that the sprint was in two kilometers, and then one kilometer later they were like 'No, it's at the original finish.' It's just carnage," he said.

The race continues Sunday with a 156 km second stage in Corsica from Bastia to Ajaccio.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:38 AM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
Click through our gallery of the most dramatic moments from the world of sport.
updated 12:06 PM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Whisper it quietly, but after years of foreign domination the prospect of a French winner of the Tour de France is more than just a mere pipe dream.
updated 9:21 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Seven years ago Steve Way was a 20 per day smoker and weighed a hefty 104 kg, but he led the marathon at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
After just one day of competition, a new sport has emerged at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow: snapping selfies with the Queen.
updated 4:48 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Inspirational cyclist Joanna Rowsell added another gold to her growing collection in the individual pursuit at the Commonwealth Games.
updated 12:04 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
At the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, an actor upstaged the Queen by kissing a male dancer.
updated 8:00 AM EDT, Wed May 7, 2014
Of course not. But former Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed seems to think the removal of Michael Jackson's statue was a very "bad" idea.
updated 12:36 PM EDT, Wed May 7, 2014
Second-tier French side Clermont Foot appoint Helena Costa -- the country's first ever professional female coach of a male team.
updated 1:33 PM EDT, Fri April 25, 2014
The All Blacks and their fans are focused on one thing, says Dan Carter: becoming the first rugby nation to win back-to-back World Cups.
updated 9:08 AM EDT, Fri April 4, 2014
The 2002 bomb attacks in Bali had many victims -- including a touring rugby team from Hong Kong.
Photographer Danny Lyon spent three days with Muhammad Ali in 1972 and shares his best photos and memories of the champ.
updated 7:54 AM EST, Tue February 25, 2014
With a growing audience boosted by the drama of ice hockey on show in Sochi at the Winter Olympics, can the sport capitalize on its popularity?
updated 6:25 AM EST, Mon January 20, 2014
Her paintings may sell for thousands of dollars, but she is best known for a modeling shot 50 years ago that helped launch a business empire.