Team Sky’s Lars-Petter Nordhaug won a dramatic first stage of the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire which saw a brace of high-profile abandonments.
Race favourite Ben Swift of Rotherham was one of several riders caught in a crash as riders tumbled on a wet section of road during a descent in the Moors, around two thirds of the way through the 174km stage from Bridlington to Scarborough.
Moments earlier, Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise’s Tim Declercq, one of two riders in a breakway, had gone straight on at the same corner and landed in a hedge before remounting.
NFTO’s Eddie Dunbar, at 18 the youngest rider in the field, also abandoned after the crash with a suspected broken clavicle. Dunbar had been part of an early break and was the first man over the major climb of the day, the Cote de Rosedale Abbey.
Kittel, who won the opening stage of the Tour de France in Harrogate last year, was racing for the first time in two months after a virus, and his limited training showed as he climbed off midway through the stage after falling more than six minutes down.
A break of five men then raced into Scarborough with Norwegian Nordhaug prevailing in the sprint against Frenchman Tommy Voeckler – a former Tour de France stage winner – and Stephane Rossetto of Cofidis in third.
Stage one result
1 Lars-Petter Nordhaug 4hr22.28
2 Thomas Voeckler (0 sec)
3 Stephane Rossetto (0 sec)
4 Samuel Sanchez (0 sec)
4Philip Deignan (0 sec)