Mark Cavendish’s Tour de France dreams hang in the balance after he dislocated his right shoulder in a crash on Harrogate’s finishing straight.
Cavendish was perfectly positioned to earn the opening stage win he craved when heading up Parliament Street until he tangled with Oreca Greenedge rider Simon Gerrans.
The 29-year-old hurtled to the floor and was left clutching his right collarbone.
After the race, his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team pushed him through the media scrum and he was taken to hospital.
Scans confirmed the Manxman has dislocated the joint connecting his collarbone and shoulderbone, but he did not break a bone.
Cavendish said: “I’m gutted about the crash. It was my fault.
“I will personally apologise to Simon Gerrans as soon as I get chance.
“I tried to find a gap that wasn’t there.”
Cavendish’s rival Marcel Kittel took the stage victory and earned the yellow jersey for the second consecutive year.
The peloton was roared into Harrogate by a crowd several rows deep on Parliament Street.
The Yorkshire crowd provided a momentous occasion for the Tour as thousands of people lined the streets across the area.
Buttertubs Pass provided one of the iconic moments of the tour as the riders climbed a category four hill to waves of colour and Union Jacks.
Last year’s Tour de France winner Chris Froome said: “The crowds out there were just incredible, second to none. Just a shame for Cav there in the final.
“It would’ve been nice to have a British victory there today but that’s racing.”
Froome finished sixth in the stage, after uncharacteristically moving towards the front of the field in the bunch sprint.
And the Team Sky rider said: “I’m feeling good. Today was more about staying out of trouble and getting to the finish without big issues. The guys did a very good job keeping me out of harm’s way.
“We don’t have a sprinter here so it would be good to get it positioned somewhere so we could have a good prep position tomorrow.
“I was just well positioned. The crash with Cav happened on the left and I was on the right.
“I didn’t really see it forming, I just saw a few guys falling on the left.”
Froome’s Team Sky teammate Richie Porte added: “It was a little bit stressful at times but it’s nice to get that one down. Hopefully the guys that crashed will be ok.
“I saw Gerro and Cav down on the ground. It was a hard finish. It was a little bit surprising how hard it was. It was a pretty hard
“The crowd’s were just massive. It’s like nothing I have ever seen anywhere before. The whole course is five or six rows deep and sometimes more.”