Cavendish, who has won 25 Tour stages in his career, crossed the line in obvious pain and his team Omega Pharma-QuickStep ruled he would not start Sunday’s second stage from York to Sheffield.
The 29-year old, who was seeking to win the yellow jersey for the first time, accepted responsibility for the crash as German Marcel Kittel sprinted to take line honours.
“I’m gutted, it was my fault,” he said.
“I’ll personally apologise to Simon Gerrans as soon as I get the chance. In reality, I tried to find a gap that wasn’t really there.
“I wanted to win, I felt really strong and was in a great position to contest the sprint thanks to the unbelievable efforts of my team.
“Sorry to all the fans that came out to support – it was truly incredible.”
Cavendish was hopeful of avenging memories of the Olympic road race and win on the Mall at the conclusion of Monday’s third stage.
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BIOGRAPHY: Ethan Hazard
BIOGRAPHY: Daniel Sturridge