Australian sprint star Robbie McEwen won the first stage of the Tour de France on Sunday, leading a mass sprint in the ride from London across the English countryside.

McEwen outpaced the trailing pack across the finish line in the flat 203-kilometer (126-mile) route to Canterbury that favored sprinters, clocking 4 hours, 39 minutes and 1 second.

Norway's Thor Hushovd was second and Belgian Tom Boonen was third. McEwen won despite getting tangled up in a group crash with less than 20 kilometers (12 miles) to go.

"This is definitely one of the best ever. After the crash I hurt myself — hurt my wrist — but the boys brought me back," McEwen said of his Predictor-Lotto squad. "I still can't believe I won this stage."

Switzerland's Fabien Cancellara retained the overall leader's yellow jersey, which he earned by winning Saturday's time-trial prologue in downtown London. Andreas Kloeden of Germany is second overall, 13 seconds back, followed by Britain's David Millar, 21 seconds behind.

Spaniard Eduardo Gonzalo Ramirez became the first cyclist to drop out of this year's race after injuring his shoulder in the first of two crashes during the stage.