A huge crash in the final sprint finish on Scarborough seafront marred stage one of the Tour de Yorkshire.
Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) ended up winning the sprint from Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) but it was the mayhem behind him which made the bigger impact.
Ewan’s team-mate Magnus Cort Nielsen touched wheels with Luke Rowe (Team Sky) with around 200 metres to go, hitting the deck hard and bringing down dozens of riders behind him. They were all able to walk away with varying degrees of injury.
The day’s final two breakaway riders, Perrig Quéméneur (Direct Énergie) and Conor Dunne (Aqua Blue Sport) had been caught with around 8km remaining, as the sprinters’ teams massed on the front with Orica-Scott leading the charge as they tried to set up Ewan, and Cofidis for Nacer Bouhanni.
In the end, Groenewegen came around the outside of Bouhanni and Ewan, edging out the Australian in a photo finish.
“The last climb was hard but the team brought me back into position so I could sprint for the win. It’s a beautiful race with a lot of people on the road, that gives you a lot of motivation,” he said. “Today was one chance and tomorrow is another but we’ll see.”
Saturday’s second stage from Tadcaster to Harrogate is also expected to end in a bunch sprint.
The women’s race, which features Lizzie Deignan (Boels-Dolmans) takes place over the same 122.5km route earlier in the day.
The men’s race finishes on Sunday with a lumpy third stage from Bradford to Sheffield that takes in eight King of the Mountain climbs where the general classification will be decided. Defending champion Thomas Voeckler (Direct Énergie) will look to hold off the likes of Britain’s Rowe.