The Latest: Riders start 7th stage of Tour de France
FOUGERES, France (AP) The latest from the seventh stage of the Tour de France (all times local)
The seventh stage of the Tour de France had not even started and Alberto Contador was already on the ground.
The two-time Tour de France winner was riding at slow speed among a group of rivals as he headed to the official start when a momentary lapse of concentration brought him down.
''Actually we were just talking about the crashes when five of us fell,'' said Contador, who escaped uninjured. ''I couldn't avoid falling.''
Contador, who is bidding to achieve a rare Giro d'Italia-Tour de France double this summer, then easily made his way back in the peloton and enjoyed ''the most relaxing day so far.''
The Cav is back.
A year after crashing out of the Tour de France in his mother's hometown, Mark Cavendish ended a two-year drought at cycling's biggest race by earning his 26th stage win.
The 30-year-old Briton timed his move to perfection in Fougeres to beat German ace sprinter Andre Greipel by a bike's length.
Cavendish, who is out of contract with Etixx-Quick Step at the end of the year, hit the tarmac in Harrogate and injured his shoulder last year when the Tour started in Yorkshire.
Only Eddy Merckx with 34 stage wins, and Bernard Hinault with 28, have won more Tour stages than Cavendish. The Briton won four stages in 2008, six in 2009, five in 2010 and 2011, three in 2012 and two in 2013.
Etixx-Quick Step manager Patrick Lefevere thought Tony Martin had a serious problem when he saw the German rider celebrating with his teammates after pulling out of the Tour de France.
A couple of hours after breaking his collarbone in a crash, an injury that forced the Tour leader out of the race, Martin was all smiles and drinking champagne at the team hotel.
''I thought he had received a knock on his head,'' Lefevere said on Friday at the start of Stage 7 in Livarot. ''But he told me that wearing the yellow jersey was his childhood dream and that his injury was not going to spoil his joy. He was there to encourage his teammates and let them know that the Tour must go on even without him.''
Martin underwent surgery in Hamburg, Germany, where doctors fixed the fracture on his left collarbone on Friday morning. His team said he will observe a two-week rest before resuming training.
''I will follow the race on TV today from the hospital,'' Martin said in a statement. ''It will be strange but that's life and cycling. I have to try to see the glass half full and keep the good memories. I had a great first part of the Tour with a great team around me. I won a stage and wore the yellow jersey for the first time in my career. A dream came true during this Tour.''
The lead of the five breakaway riders is decreasing quickly as sprinters teams Etixx-Quick Step and Lotto-Soudal have launched the chase.
With 70 kilometers left before the finish in the small Britany town of Fougeres, Kristjian Durasek, Luis Angel Mate, Anthony Delaplace, Brice Feillu and Daniel Teklehaimanot - who holds the best climber's polka-dot jersey - are just one minute ahead of the peloton. They had a maximum lead of about 4 minutes.
Riders took to the start of the seventh stage of the crash-marred Tour de France on Friday with no rider wearing the yellow jersey after race leader Tony Martin broke his collarbone at the end of Thursday's stage.
With Martin out, British rider Chris Froome is now in the overall lead - but the 2013 Tour champion did not wear the jersey as mark of respect for the German, who underwent an operation early Friday.
The stage is another one for sprinters.
It starts from Livarot in the Normandy region and ends 190.5 kilometers (118 miles) later in Fougeres, nestled in the Brittany region.
Two-time Tour winner Alberto Contador fell off his bike before the start line but got back on to take the start.