PENTHOUSE TO OUTHOUSE,
VITTEL, FRANCE — One day Peter Sagan was twirling his fingers and celebrating victory.
A day later, the world champion from Slovakia — one of the sport’s biggest stars — was disqualified from the Tour de France.
Sagan was sent home Tuesday for causing a serious crash in a chaotic sprint finish that left Mark Cavendish needing treatment for his injuries and further examinations in a hospital.
About 50 metres from the end of Stage 4, Sagan elbowed Cavendish, who was squeezed against the barriers to his right, out of the way.
Cavendish slammed into the barriers and two other riders plowed over the British sprint specialist, a winner of 30 Tour stages.
“We have decided to disqualify Peter Sagan from the 2017 Tour de France after the tumultuous sprint here in Vittel, where he endangered several riders, including Mark Cavendish and others who were involved in the crash,” race jury president Philippe Marien of the UCI said.
Cavendish was taken to hospital with hand and shoulder injuries. “I will definitely need stitches in this finger, it’s bleeding a lot,” he said.
“With the shoulder, it might be something to do with a previous injury, it’s sat backwards so I’m not sure if I’ve done something to the ligament.
“I’m not a doctor, but from the feelings I’m not optimistic.”
Sagan was aiming to match Erik Zabel’s record of six green jerseys in the Tour’s points classification, and he was right on target after winning Stage 3.
After the crash, Sagan went over to see how Cavendish was and patted him on the back, while the British rider showed him his wounds.
“It’s the sprint. I just didn’t know that Mark is behind me, he’s coming from the right side,” Sagan said. “Mark was coming pretty fast from the back and after I just didn’t have time to react, to go left, and he just came (into) me and after into the fence.”
There was another crash earlier that delayed Tour leader Geraint Thomas, but the Welshman retained the yellow jersey since it happened in the neutral zone near the stage finish.
Thomas leads Sky teammate and threetime champion Chris Froome by 12 seconds, with third-place Michael Matthews of Australia also 12 seconds back.
Germany’s John Degenkolb, left, and Britain’s Mark Cavendish crash during the sprint of the fourth stage of the Tour de France.