Mark Cavendish
Cavendish stormed to his 27th stage win at the Tour de France in another historic moment for the Briton.Getty Images

Mark Cavendish claimed the first yellow jersey of his career after winning the opening stage of the Tour de France at Utah Beach. The Isle of Man rider sprinted to a stunning victory ahead of Marcel Kittel and Peter Sagan to record his 27th stage win at cycling's greatest road race.

The 31-year-old was not expected to feature after spending time away from the road in an effort to qualify for the Great Britain track squad for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, but overcame the odds to prevail. Cavendish wins his first stage as part of the Dimension Data team and is the eighth Briton to wear the yellow jersey.

An incident packed opening stage in which riders were dogged by cross winds during the 81km course included a serious crash for Alberto Contador - who continued despite falling on his right shoulder. But with reigning champion Chris Froome coming through unscathed, the headlines belong to Cavendish who was noticeably emotional at the finish line.

"It's phenomenal," Cavendish, whose team are riding for the Help for Heroes charity, told ITV4. "It's the third opportunity without bad luck. I don't really know what to say. it was a big goal. We wanted this. There is no bigger icon in cycling than the yellow jersey. There is no bigger stage than to wear the yellow jersey. I do this for my team.

"Regardless of who is there, it's the Tour de France. To win a stage is incredible and to pull on this jersey is an hour that I've never got to do before. I'm a bit emotional. Tomorrow is going to be a special day but what better way to do it."