Mark Cavendish fell heavily in a dramatic conclusion to the first day of the Tour de France as the world's greatest bike race returned to the UK.

British fans were denied a fairytale finish to the first stage as Cavendish crashed in the final sprint to the line in Harrogate.

He was left prone on the ground clutching his shoulder after colliding with another rider in the final yards. The Isle of Man rider was able to pedal across the line, but was wincing and clearly in pain.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry looked shocked on the finish line when the commentator described Cavendish's crash.

Mark Cavendish in pain after the crash at Harrogate
Mark Cavendish in pain after the crash at Harrogate
 

The royal party clapped the riders as they crossed the line and looked down the course for the stricken sprinter.

Cavendish limped back a few minutes later, passing right in front of the royal enclosure. William, Kate and Harry again looked shocked as they could clearly see his torn shirt and injured left arm and shoulder just a metre in front of them. Only half an hour before the royal trio had been chatting to Cavendish's mother who was a guest in the royal area.

Earlier, more than a million people lined the streets of Yorkshire amid jubilant scenes as the Tour de France came across the Channel for the first time since 2007.

The riders were given a royal send-off by the Duke and Duchess and Prince Harry as the world's best cyclists descended on Leeds for the Grand Depart of the 101st Tour de France.

Crowds of cycling fans flocked from all over the country to Yorkshire to get a glimpse of the 198 racers passing through the county's striking scenery.

Two spectators were hurt as the action unfolded.

Police said a teenage boy was in a stable condition after he was airlifted to hospital with leg injuries after what police described as "a team vehicle which formed part of Tour de France convoy" hit the youngster.

Meanwhile a woman was also flown to hospital with head injuries after falling through a roof while watching the race.

The intense interest in the event put a strain on local transport links, with delays and large crowds at Leeds and York stations as thousands tried to make it to Harrogate for the finish of the 190.5km stage.

Organisers said "well over" a million people watched along the route, with initial estimates suggesting there were 230,000 spectators in the centre of Leeds and more than 10,000 watched the riders on the steep climb at Buttertubs Hill.

Sir Rodney Walker, chairman of co-ordinators TdFHUB2014 Ltd, said: "Today has been a massive success with well over one million people enjoying the sporting action along the route. Spectators have had a fantastic day they will never forget and Yorkshire has been showcased to a massive global audience.

"It has taken a huge amount of planning and teamwork, so thank you to all of our partners, and especially our stewards and the Tour Maker volunteers for all of their hard work.

"Today has set the tone for the next two days, and we look forward to seeing more huge crowds lining the route to watch the world's best cyclists in action."

Earlier the Duchess set the riders on their way.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, with Prince Harry, cut the ribbon in front of the Peloton at Harewood House, Leeds, Yorkshire.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, with Prince Harry, cut the ribbon in front of the Peloton at Harewood House, Leeds, Yorkshire.
 

Wearing a bottle green Erdem coat over a green Suzannah dress and carrying a grey clutch purse, Kate cut the ribbon to officially start the race.

She was joined by her husband and brother-in-law Prince Harry as the trio welcomed the cyclists for the Grand Depart of the 101st Tour.

Crowds of fans cheered loudly as the cyclists gathered outside the 18th century stately home Harewood House, where they took off their helmets as they were greeted with a rendition of the French and British national anthems, performed by the Band of the Corps of Royal Engineers.

The RAF's Red Arrows delighted crowds by performing a flyover that left a trail of red, white and blue vapour - the national colours of France and the UK.

The Duke and Duchess and Prince Harry watched from just next to the start line as the teams sped down the hill and out of the park, and William was heard to say: "The only better view would have been on the back of one of those motorbikes."

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Tour de France Yorkshire from above

LOOK: Tour de France Yorkshire officially started by Duchess of Cambridge at Harewood House

Tour de France Yorkshire: Huge crowds line Leeds streets for Grand Depart

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