PUMPED UP: Germany's Marcel Kittel celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the second stage of the Tour de France.
PUMPED UP: Germany's Marcel Kittel celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the second stage of the Tour de France. YOAN VALAT

Porte injured as Tour field slips and slides into Belgium

RICHIE Porte's Tour de France battle has got bloody after another chaotic day on the roads of the world's biggest bike race.

German powerhouse Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors) won stage two after a rapid finish into Liege by holding off Arnaud Demare (FDJ) and Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal).

But the first sprint of the Tour, combined with another day of rain and wet roads, made for more danger in an already-nervy peloton.

Porte and title rivals Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Romain Bardet (AG2R) were among a group of riders caught up in a nasty crash on a roundabout with 30km to go.

The Aussie took skin off his right knee and was sore upon returning to the BMC team bus after the race.

Froome took longer to get up and was forced to chase with a handful of similarly battered teammates, while also having to stop for a replacement bike.

Yet Porte, whose cautious approach to the treacherous stage one time trial saw him fall 35 seconds behind Froome, battled to hide his frustration afterwards.

"Oh, it was stressful," Porte said.

"First stage of the Tour and then you get the rain, then it dries up and then it starts raining again.

"It's nice to get the first crash out of the way and you know, get on with it."

With the roads underwater at one point, Porte was left with nowhere to go when a mass crash hit the field as it negotiated a roundabout.

"Obviously I got tangled up in it, but I came out of it okay. There was a few guys who went down quite a lot harder and fortunately I landed on top of them," he said.

"Hopefully the knee is okay. I got a bit of a bang on that."

Froome said the he had "just lost a little bit of skin on my backside".

"That's the nature of the race. We knew that there were slippery conditions, and every time you put your race numbers on you take risks and something could happen," Froome said.

"Today there was just a touch of wheels or someone slipped a few wheels ahead of me, and at those speeds you just can't avoid it."

The 203km journey from Dusseldorf to industrial Belgian city, Liege, was marked by a long breakaway that lasted until the final kilometre of the race.

Taylor Phinney (Cannondale-Drapac), Thomas Boudat (Direct Energie), Laurent Pichon (Fortuneo-Oscaro) and Yoann Offredo (Wanty-Gobert) were never allowed to establish a large lead, but for a while it looked like Tour de France debutants Phinney and Offredo might defy the odds and avoid capture.

Once they were finally caught on the wide drag to the finish line, the fastest men in world cycling hit the jets.

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) went too early and after Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Merida) and then André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) took their chance, Kittel was able to time his run to perfection for his 10th career Tour stage win.

"I am so happy that I got this victory today," Kittel said.

"It was an incredible start in Germany with so many people. For me, it would be wrong to say that I had no expectation or no pressure. I really wanted to have this win."

Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) retained the leader's yellow jersey.