Cav denied victory on second stage of Le Tour

Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line ahead of Peter Sagan of Slovakia, left, and Manx Missile Mark Cavendish, right, to win the second stage of the Tour de France in Utrecht (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line ahead of Peter Sagan of Slovakia, left, and Manx Missile Mark Cavendish, right, to win the second stage of the Tour de France in Utrecht (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

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Mark Cavendish was denied a stage win in the first road stage of the 2015 Tour de France in north-east Holland.

The predominantly flat run from Utrecht to Zeland was hit by heavy showers of rain and it looked for a while that four escapees may survive, but a lead pack from the peleton former in the final 20km that included all the big sprinters.

Cav, whose Ettixx Quick-Step team had worked hard on the front of the bunch for much of the day, left themselves one man short in the front group and the Manxman had to go for the sprint at the 400 metre mark.

Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) stuck to his rear wheel and got himself in front with a few metres remaining. Cavendish sat up and looked across as both Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Fabien Cancellara (Trek) also pipped him to the line, Sagan having made it back to the front with a monumental effort after puncturing inside the final 20km.

Team Sky’s Peter Kennaugh played a protective role to Chris Froome in the second bunch, but all the main GC-chasing contenders lost time to Switzerland’s Cancellara, who will start tomorrow’s third stage in yellow.

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