Cavendish wins opening stage of Tour de France

Utah Beach, France—Mark Cavendish closed in on the all-time record by winning the opening stage of the 2016 Tour de France at Utah Beach on Saturday.
It was the 31-year-old Briton’s 27th stage win since 2008 putting him just one win behind second-placed Bernard Hinault in the all-time list where Belgian legend Eddy Merckx remains out in front on 34 victories.
Cavendish will now embark for Sunday’s second stage wearing the yellow jersey for the first time in his career.
German Marcel Kittel took second with world champion Peter Sagan third at the end of the 188km stage from Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy.
The 103rd edition of the world’s most prestigious cycling race, the Tour de France, began at Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy on Saturday amidst tight security.
Reigning champion Chris Froome of Britain was one of 198 riders on the start line ahead of the 188km first stage to Utah Beach, site of one of the famous World War II Normandy landings.
The race will finish on July 24 on the famous Champs Elysees in Paris after covering 3,500km around France.
This year’s event is being conducted amidst maximum security following the terror attacks in Paris last November which left 130 people dead.
Despite resources being stretched due to the simultaneous running of the ongoing Euro 2016 football tournament, elite GIGN special forces have been assigned to protect the Tour de France from a potential terror threat.
There will be 23,000 police mobilised to handle security and each of the 22 teams of nine riders has been assigned a dozen officers to look after them, while a police command post is being set up at the finish of every stage.
The fight against cheats has also been stepped up with technological fraud seen as the new threat after years of EPO use and blood-doping.
A thermal camera is to be used by authorities at the Tour for the first time alongside magnetic resonance screening to try to spot hidden motors in bicycles.
Meanwhile, the fight against EPO has not been sacrificed with l’Equipe newspaper announcing that the French laboratory tasked with testing doping samples can now detect micro-doses of the banned blood-booster.—AFP

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