Chris Froome was caught in a crash before Marcel Kittel won stage two of the Tour de France in Liege.

Froome was one of several general classification hopefuls to fall in soaking wet conditions around 30 kilometres from the finish of the 203.5km stage from Dusseldorf.

They would all get back to the peloton before German Kittel of Quick-Step Floors won from a bunch sprint, while Geraint Thomas finished safely in the pack to retain the yellow jersey he took with Saturday's time trial win.

Nicolas Roche and Dan Martin finished safely in the bunch, with Martin now 52nd overall and Roche in 111th place. 

The crash came on a right turn in Battice as the miserable weather which marred Saturday's opening time trial followed the race south into Belgium.

Team Sky's Froome appeared to be the first to hit the deck but several followed with the peloton going at full speed.

Thomas was held up but quickly got back on his way, while Froome set about chasing back with Richie Porte (BMC) and Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) who were also caught up.

Froome had to stop for a bike change, but eventually got back with the help of Christian Knees and Michal Kwiatkowski after a 10km chase.

Wet weather and crosswinds had made for stressful racing despite the fact the 203.5km run from Dusseldorf was almost entire flat.

A four-man breakaway was allowed to go clear, and Tour debutant Taylor Phinney (Cannondale-Drapac) crested the day's two climbs first to take the first polka dot jersey of the Tour.

After the delay caused by the crash, they were reeled in with barely a kilometre to go as the lead-out trains set up the sprint.

Kittel won ahead of FDJ's French sprinter Arnaud Demare and Lotto-Soudal's German Andre Greipel, while Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data) was fourth - an encouraging result following his bout of illness.
Ben Swift (UAE Team Emirates) finished seventh on the stage.

Froome reassured supporters he was fine following the incident, telling ITV4: "No injuries, thankfully. Just lost a little bit of skin from my backside.

"That's the nature of the race. We knew it's slippery conditions like that, every time the race comes on there's a big risk something could happen and today there was just a touch of wheels, or someone slid just a few wheels ahead of me, and at those speeds you just can't avoid it.

"I think a few of us went down but thankfully everybody's okay and got to the finish all right without losing any time to our rivals, so that's the main thing."