“I touched him. The road was bearing left,” Cavendish said. “Yeah, it was my fault. … I hope he’s OK.”
Froome was at a safe distance behind, much to his relief.
“That’s everyone’s worst nightmare. Fortunately I was to the side of that crash and went around it no problem,” Froome said. “I’m feeling really good. Today was a great day for us, staying out of trouble, staying at the front. That was one of the objectives today, save the legs as much as possible.”
Kittel won the opening stage and is now the first rider to capture two stages in this year’s race.
“Things went very well with my team today,” he said. “I managed to get on Greipel’s wheel and overtake him.”
Veelers was not seriously harmed and was later able to answer questions outside the team bus.
Peter Sagan, who won the green jersey for best sprinter in last year’s Tour, finished the stage in fourth. The Slovak holds a commanding 83-point lead over Greipel and is 103 in front of archrival Cavendish, who won the green jersey in 2011.
The finish looked tailor-made for Cavendish, who was going for his 25th career Tour stage win to tie Frenchman Andre Leducq on the all-time list of Tour stage winners.
“I think this team could’ve done something differently, but we’ll talk about that later,” Cavendish said.
As the British rider moved into position to attack before the final corner, Cavendish appeared to lean into Veelers and send the Argos-Shimano rider flying off his bike. Race stewards were examining what happened.