Mark Cavendish suffers as Daryl Impey seals his place in Tour history
Mark Cavendish's crash ended his chance of moving up a place in the Tour de France's record books but history was made as Daryl Impey became the first South African to wear the yellow jersey yesterday.
Cavendish was aiming to win his 25th Tour stage – enough to move level with Andre Leducq for all-time third – following victory in Marseille, but there was the rare sight of the Manxman coming up short in a bunch sprint finish as he gave up the chase on Andre Greipel, apparently feeling the affects of a crash late in a 176.5km stage from Aix-en-Provence.
While Greipel won from Peter Sagan and Marcel Kittel at the front, with Cavendish fourth, Impey came home in what proved to be a lucky 13th as he inherited the yellow jersey from his Orica GreenEdge team-mate Simon Gerrans, who was down in 48th.
Cavendish was caught in a crash with some Belkin riders around 34km from the finish, and needed seven tough kilometres to get back to the peloton. The battle for the yellow jersey is yet to really ignite as the race moves towards the mountains this week.
"If you'd ever told me I'd get to experience this I'd tell you you were lying," the 28-year-old said.
"This is a big day for South African and African cycling. Simon got in the jersey because he won stage three but it's been in my reach and seeing him lead me out today shows what a great rider he is. He could easily have sat on the wheel and kept the yellow. I was the last man to lead out for Matt Goss and that left me in a good spot."
Sky's Chris Froome remains seventh, just eight seconds off the pace with rivals Alberto Contador and Cadel Evans positioned just behind.