British rider Mark Cavendish, competing for SA team Dimension Data, made a superb comeback at top-flight level on Sunday, narrowly missing out on the podium on stage two of the Tour de France.
Having been sidelined from racing for three months due to illness, the former world champion proved he was back to his best, taking fourth place in a long sprint for the line on the 203.5km leg from Dusseldorf to Liege.
Marcel Kittel of Germany (Quick-Step Floors) took the stage victory in 4:37:06, climbing to third place in the general classification. Louis Meintjes (UAE Emirates) was the top SA rider on the day, and though he crossed the line in 45th place, he formed part of the main peloton.
British rider Geraint Thomas (Sky) remained five points clear in the overall lead. Dimension Data rider Edvald Boasson Hagen of Norway, who was 19th on the stage, settled in ninth position in the general classification, and South African time trial champion Daryl Impey (Orica-Scott) was lying 13th overall.
The 212.5km third stage on Monday was set to start in Verviers and finish in Longwy, as the peloton prepared to leave Belgium and enter French territory for the first time.