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Marcel Kittel wins Stage 2 of the 2017 Tour de France; Mark Cavendish finishes fourth

Marcel Kittel was the best of the sprinters as he won Stage 2 of the 2017 Tour de France

Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors) won Stage 2 of the 2017 Tour de France from a fast, chaotic sprint into Liege after 202km. For a time it had looked like the breakaway might survive to the end but the sprint teams formed and took their fast men to the front.

Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) kicked late and was starting to come around Kittel but faded and eventually finished fourth. This bodes well for a rider coming back from illness and he should be in with a chance of increasing on his 30 Tour de France stage wins over the coming weeks.

The day's winner was simply too strong for all his rivals and crossed the line with both arms raised. His sprint started later than most and the win looked like it might go to either Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida), Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) or Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal).

In the end it looks as though Sagan went too early as he was passed by most of the big name sprinters and crossed the line in 10th.

The top 10 was a who's who of the Tour's sprinters but no one could trouble Kittel. The win takes Kittel to 10 Tour stages in his career and this victory points to him adding a few more before the race finishes in three weeks.

The winning time bonus means Kittel is now third overall and a couple more sprint wins in the first week, before he loses minutes on the climbs, could see Kittel wearing yellow.

A rain soaked Stage 2 at the 2017 Tour de France dries out in time for the sprint

The weather made its presence known on Stage 2 of the 2017 Tour de France with heavy rain showers following the peloton as it made its way out of Germany and across to Belgium.

This being a professional bike race, a breakaway went up the road and there it dangled. The riders involved were Thomas Boudat (Direct Energie), Taylor Phinney (Cannondale-Drapac), Yoann Offredo (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Laurent Pichon (Fortuneo).

The four riders increased their advantage to 3:30 over the cruising peloton, but that advantage dropped rapidly to below 2 minutes with over 100km left to the finish line.

As such, the escapees sat up until the peloton calmed down and then normal service of the dangle resumed.

With points only available down to fifth at the day's intermediate strint, the chasing riders were chasing just a single point. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin) got the better of his rivals, most of whom sat up long before the line, but the safe money still points to Sagan winning the green jersey overall.

Phinney, riding his first Tour de France, got maximum points in the King of the Mountains competition and will start Stage 3 in the polka dot jersey.

A huge crash on a rain soaked corner with around 30km to go took down Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale), both of whom soon had teammates around them to assist with the chase back up to the fast moving peloton.

Other riders involved included Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale) and a number of Richie Porte's BMC Racing support riders.

The crash behind gave a slight reprieve to the breakaway, with the advantage hovering around 50 seconds.

Froome and Bardet got back in touch 25km from the finish line and made their way back towards the front and, supposedly, safety.

The Team Sky leader was forced to make a bike change a couple of kilometres down the road and was then shepherded back up by key supprt riders Michal Kwiatkowski and Christian Knees.

Froome was riding gingerly as he and his teammates weaved their way through the cars.

For Phinney to get the KOM points he needed for the polka dot jersey it was a hard fought sprint on a small rise with 20km to go, but he was able to come round Pichon at the last.

The American then used the momentum over the top of the classified climb to try and push on solo and see how long he could hold off the sprint team-led peloton.

He was joined by Offredo and with 16.8km left the pair held an advantage of 46 seconds.

Pichon was the first breakaway rider to be caught and passed by the peloton, his day was done around 15km out from the end of the stage. Soon after, Boudat found himself back in the main bunch too.

Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal) stormed to the front of the peloton in the hope of eating into the advantage of the lead pair. With 4.5km to go the duo still held an advantage of 31 seconds.

The main sprint trains started to form on the nose of the bunch but the gap remained stubbornly steady and thoughts turned even more strongly to whether the breakaway could become a stayaway.

No sooner did we start to believe in the fairytale of a breakaway win on a sprint stage of the Tour de France, the peloton got its act together and the time gap tumbled.

Out of a tunnel and with 1.2km left to the end the brave pair was swamped but the now rapidly moving peloton.

Tour de France 2017: Stage 2 Düsseldorf to Liege (202km) result

1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Quick-Step Floors at 4:37:06
2. Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ, at same time
3. Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal, st
4. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data, st
5. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo, st
6. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team, st
7. Ben Swift (GBr) UAE Team Emirates, st
8. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, st
9. Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb, st
10. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe, st

Tour de France 2017: General classification top 10 after Stage 2

1. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky, at 4:53:10
2. Stefan Kung (Sui) BMC Racing, at 0:05
3. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Quick-Step Floors, at 0:06
4. Vasil Kiriyenka (Blr) Team Sky, at 0:07
5. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Quick-Step Floors, at 0:10
6. Christopher Froome Team Sky, at 0:12
7. Jos Van Emden (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo, at 0:15
8. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky, at same time
9. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data, at 0:16
10. Nikias Arndt (Den) Team Sunweb, at same time