SAINTE-MARIE-DU-MONT, France — Mark Cavendish can finally wear the yellow jersey.
The British cyclist won a sprint in the crash-marred opening stage of the Tour de France and took the overall lead on Saturday following a picturesque first stage that finished on Utah Beach, where Allied troops landed on D-Day in 1944.
It was Cavendish’s 27th stage win in the French classic — third on the all-time list behind Eddy Merckx (34) and Bernard Hinault (28) — but he had never won the opening leg, which is often a time trial.
German rival Marcel Kittel and Slovakian standout Peter Sagan finished second and third, respectively.
Two-time Tour winner Alberto Contador crashed midway through the stage and several riders were involved in an ugly crash on the final straight.
ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) Three-time world road race champion Peter Sagan of Slovakia has confirmed he will compete in the Tour Down Under in January, the opening World Tour event of the season.
Sagan won the world title last month for the third straight year, becoming the first cyclist to do so. He competed in the Tour Down Under for the first time last year, finishing second on three stages behind Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan.
Sagan, who rides for the BORA-hansgrohe team, said the six-stage Tour Down Under is “the perfect start to the UCI World Tour season each year … a challenging and tough course, warm weather and the passionate fans that cheer for us day in day out no matter what.”
SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) Former Olympic road cycling champion Samuel Sanchez, who returned a positive doping test in August, had his B-sample confirmed Wednesday and was promptly fired by the BMC Racing Team.
Sanchez’s out-of-competition test revealed growth hormone-releasing peptide 2, or GHRP-2, a drug that increases a body’s level of growth hormone. Several cyclists have tested positive for the drug, among them Italian rider Stefano Pirazzi, who was given a four-year ban earlier this week.
The U.S.-based BMC Team said in a statement Wednesday that it was adhering to its zero-tolerance policy toward doping by terminating the Spaniard’s contract “with immediate effect.”
The 39-year-old Sanchez, who had been provisionally suspended, won gold at the 2008 Beijing Games.