Slovakia's Peter Sagan took the honours on stage two of the Tour de France on Sunday. The world champion overpowered his rivals on the short climb into the finish to snatch the leader’s yellow jersey from Mark Cavendish.
Tinkoff rider Sagan was edged into third by Briton Cavendish and Germany’s Marcel Kittel in Saturday’s opening stage but timed his burst to perfection at the end of the 183-kilometre ride from Saint-Lo to Cherbourg.
It is the first time Sagan has claimed the yellow jersey in cycling’s most prestigious race.
Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe of Etixx-Quickstep was second and Movistar rider Alejandro Valverde of Spain third.
Valverde’s compatriot, double Tour winner Alberto Contador, crashed for the second day in a row and lost nearly 50 seconds on his main title rivals, including British defending champion Chris Froome of Sky.
Contador is a team mate of Sagan's and owner Oleg Tinkov said he remained optimistic the 2007 and 2009 champion could mount a realistic challenge.
Contador hit the deck in slippery conditions 60 kms in to the race as part of a pileup that also included Frenchman Warren Barguil, Germany's Tony Martin and Joaquim Rodriguez of Spain.
After changing his bike, he was led back to the pack by his team mates but could not catch up with the leaders.
"It's sad for Alberto but last year he won the Giro (d'Italia) despite a crash so I still believe in him," Tinkov told reporters.
Australian Richie Porte of BMC also slipped off the pace when he suffered a puncture in the finale.
Monday’s third stage takes the peloton along a 223.5-km stretch from Granville to Angers.