Tour de France: Marcel Kittel wins stage two

Chris Froome during stage two

Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas were involved in a crash before Marcel Kittel won stage two of the Tour de France in Liege.

Froome was one of several general classification hopefuls to fall in soaking wet conditions around 30 kilometres from the finish of the 203.5km stage from Dusseldorf, and Team Sky team-mate Thomas also went down in the yellow jersey.

They would all get back to the peloton before German Kittel of Quick-Step Floors won from a bunch sprint, while Thomas finished safely in the pack to retain the overall lead he took with Saturday's time trial win.

The crash came on a right turn in Battice as the miserable weather which marred Saturday's opening time trial followed the race south west into Belgium.

Team Sky's Froome appeared to be the first to hit the deck but several followed with the peloton going at full speed.

"No injuries, thankfully," Froome said. 

"I just lost a little bit of skin on my backside, but yeah, that's the nature of the race, we knew there were slippery conditions.

"Every time you put the race numbers on you know there's a big risk something could happen and today just a touch of wheels, or someone just slid a few wheels ahead of me, and at those speeds you just can't avoid it.

"I think a few of us went down but thankfully everyone's okay and got to the finish alright without losing any time to our rivals."

Thomas added: "I'm not sure who was the first one down but myself and Froomey must have been in the top 10 or 15 and we had nowhere to go so we hit the deck. No real damage, I just lost a bit of skin."

Thomas quickly got back on his way, but Froome had a more stressful chase back as he had to change bike before eventually re-joining the peloton.

Also involved were GC hopefuls Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and Richie Porte (BMC Racing).

"It's nice to get the first crash out of the way and get on with it," Porte said. 

"Hopefully the knee's okay. I got a little bit of a bang on that."

Wet weather and crosswinds had made for stressful racing despite the fact the run from Dusseldorf was almost entirely flat.

A four-man breakaway was allowed to go clear, and Taylor Phinney (Cannondale-Drapac) took the day's two climbs first to take the first polka dot jersey of the Tour.

After the delay caused by the crash, they were reeled in with barely a kilometre to go as the lead-out trains set up the sprint.

Kittel won ahead of FDJ's French sprinter Arnaud Demare and Lotto-Soudal's German Andre Greipel, while Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data) was fourth - an encouraging result following his long illness.

Ben Swift (UAE Team Emirates) finished seventh. 

Final leading positions after Stage 2 (Dusseldorf - Liege - 203.5km): 1 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Quick-Step Floors at 4hrs 37mins 6secs, 2 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ, 3 Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal, 4 Mark Cavendish (Gbr) Dimension Data, 5 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo, 6 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida, 7 Ben Swift (Gbr) UAE Team Emirates, 8 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits, 9 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb, 10 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe, 11 Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert, 12 Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert, 13 John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo, 14 Daniel Mclay (Gbr) Team Fortuneo - Oscaro, 15 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha-Alpecin, 16 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Quick-Step Floors, 17 Dion Smith (NZl) Wanty - Groupe Gobert, 18 Angelo Tulik (Fra) Direct Energie, 19 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data, 20 Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team at same time

Selected others: 31 Simon Yates (Gbr) Orica-Scott, 35 Geraint Thomas (Gbr) Team Sky, 37 Christopher Froome (Gbr) Team Sky, 99 Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing Team, 113 Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors, 161 Stephen Cummings (Gbr) Dimension Data at same time, 162 Scott Thwaites (Gbr) Dimension Data at 26secs, 193 Luke Rowe (Gbr) Team Sky at 13mins 55secs

General Classification after Stage 2: 1 Geraint Thomas (Gbr) Team Sky at 4hrs 53mins 10secs, 2 Stefan Kung (Swi) BMC Racing Team at 5secs, 3 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Quick-Step Floors at 6secs, 4 Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Team Sky at 7secs, 5 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Quick-Step Floors at 10secs, 6 Christopher Froome (Gbr) Team Sky at 12secs, 7 Jos Van Emden (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo at 15secs, 8 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky at same time, 9 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data at 16secs, 10 Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Sunweb at same time, 11 Taylor Phinney (USA) Cannondale-Drapac at 17secs, 12 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team at same time, 13 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-Scott at 19secs, 14 Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar Team at 20secs, 15 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb at same time, 16 Pierre Roger Latour (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale at 25secs, 17 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe at same time, 18 Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team at 29secs, 19 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors at 30secs, 20 Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo at 31secs

Selected others: 26 Simon Yates (Gbr) Orica-Scott at 37secs, 52 Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors at 49secs, 68 Stephen Cummings (Gbr) Dimension Data at 56secs, 92 Ben Swift (Gbr) UAE Team Emirates at 1min 8secs, 103 Daniel Mclay (Gbr) Team Fortuneo - Oscaro at 1min 12secs, 111 Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing Team at 1min 14secs, 147 Mark Cavendish (Gbr) Dimension Data at 1min 46secs, 164 Scott Thwaites (Gbr) Dimension Data at 2mins 16secs, 193 Luke Rowe (Gbr) Team Sky at 15mins 45secs 

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