SAINTE-MARIE-DU-MONT, France -- Mark Cavendish can finally wear the yellow jersey.

The British cyclist won a sprint in the crash-marred opening stage of the Tour de France and took the overall lead on Saturday following a picturesque first stage that finished on Utah Beach, where Allied troops landed on D-Day in 1944.

It was Cavendish's 27th stage win in the French classic -- third on the all-time list behind Eddy Merckx (34) and Bernard Hinault (28) -- but he had never won the opening leg, which is often a time trial.

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German rival Marcel Kittel and Slovakian standout Peter Sagan finished second and third, respectively.

Two-time Tour winner Alberto Contador crashed midway through the stage and several riders were involved in an ugly crash on the final straight.