Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS -

Peter Sa­gan (left) dis­qual­i­fied from Tour de France for el­bow­ing Mark Cavendish.

VIT­TEL, France — Mark Cavendish has been forced out of the Tour de France af­ter suf­fer­ing a frac­tured shoul­der blade in a se­ri­ous crash caused by world cham­pion Peter Sa­gan, who was dis­qual­i­fied from cy­cling’s show­case event.

Hours af­ter Tues­day’s crash in a chaotic sprint fin­ish to Stage 4, Cavendish’s Team Di­men­sion Data said on its Twit­ter feed that “Un­for­tu­nately, MarkCavendish has been forced to with­draw from #TDF2017.”

The Bri­tish rider suf­fered hand and shoul­der in­juries in the crash, and was taken to a hos­pi­tal for checks.

“I’m ob­vi­ously mas­sively dis­ap­pointed to get this news about the frac­ture,” Cavendish said. “The team was in­cred­i­ble to­day.

“They ex­e­cuted to per­fec­tion what we wanted to do this morn­ing. I feel I was in a good po­si­tion to win and to lose that and even hav­ing to leave the Tour, a race I have built my whole ca­reer around, is re­ally sad.”

The crash oc­curred about 50 yards from the end of the stage, when 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.

“Mark suf­fered a frac­ture to the right scapula,” Team Di­men­sion Data Dr. Adrian Ro­tunno said. “For­tu­nately no surgery is re­quired at this stage, and most im­por­tantly there is no nerve dam­age.

“He’s been with­drawn from the race for ob­vi­ous med­i­cal rea­sons, and we’ll con­tinue mon­i­tor­ing him over the com­ing days.”

Race jury pres­i­dent Philippe Marien of the UCI said race rules al­low or­ga­niz­ers to dis­qual­ify rid­ers in “se­ri­ous cases.”

“We have de­cided to dis- qual­ify 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,” Marien said.

Apart from dop­ing of­fenses, dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tions are rare in the Tour. In 2010, Aus­tralian Mark Ren­shaw was thrown out for a head-butt that cleared a path in a sprint for his team­mate Cavendish to win the stage in Bourg-LesVa­lence.

“I get on with Peter well, but I don’t get … if he came across is one thing, but the el­bow. I’m not a fan of him putting his el­bow in me like that,” Cavendish said.

“A crash is a crash, I’d just like to know about the el­bow, re­ally,” Cavendish added. “I’d just like to speak to him about it.”

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.

The Slo­vak said later he had apol­o­gized to Cavendish.

“It’s not nice to crash like that,” said Sa­gan, who had fin­ished the stage in sec­ond place be­hind France’s Ar­naud De­mare.

“It’s the sprint. I just didn’t know that Mark is be­hind me,

he’s com­ing from the right side,” Sa­gan added. “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.”

A med­i­cal team quickly ran out to treat Cavendish, jog­ging into the on­com­ing stream of rid­ers to reach him.

When Cavendish was fi­nally helped to his feet, his jersey was badly torn and blood was streak­ing down his side. Cavendish rode in with a team­mate af­ter treat­ment, gin­gerly hold­ing his right arm close to his body, with his right hand in a ban­dage.

It’s al­ready been a dif­fi­cult year for Cavendish, who came down with mononu­cle­o­sis caused by the Ep­stein-Barr virus in April.

“If there was a mis­take, then you have to con­grat­u­late the jury for hav­ing the courage to pun­ish the world cham­pion, the big star of cy­cling to­day,” De­mare said.

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 three-time cham­pion Chris Froome by 12 sec­onds, with third-place Michael

Matthews of Aus­tralia also 12 sec­onds back.

Thomas scraped his knee but said it was OK.

“I hit the deck but I’m fine,” Thomas said.

De­mare clocked nearly five hours over the largely flat 129-mile route, which started and fin­ished in two spa towns, Mon­dorf-les-Bains in Lux­em­bourg and Vit­tel in France.

De­mare’s vic­tory ended a long wait for the home fans, with the pre­vi­ous French vic­tory in a bunch sprint at the Tour be­ing won by Jimmy Casper in Stage 1 in Stras­bourg in 2006.

“We’ve been work­ing with Ar­naud for a long time on sprints,” said Marc Ma­diot, man­ager of De­mare’s FDJ team. “Win­ning in the Tour is the best.”

Af­ter Sa­gan’s dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion, Alexan­der Kristoff moved up to sec­ond place in the stage, with An­dre Greipel in third.

Stage 5 to­day con­cludes with the first se­ri­ous climb of the Tour. The 100-mile leg be­gins in Vit­tel and winds its way to La Planche Des Belles Filles with a short but steep fin­ish­ing as­cent that fea­tures a leg-break­ing 20-per­cent gra­di­ent in the fi­nal me­ters. All of the over­all fa­vorites should swing into ac­tion.


Bri­tain’s Mark Cavendish talks with medics Tues­day af­ter he crashed dur­ing the fourth stage of the Tour de France, which ended in Vit­tel, France. The crash oc­curred about 50 yards from the end of the stage, when Peter Sa­gan el­bowed Cavendish, who was squeezed against the bar­ri­ers to his right. Cavendish slammed into the bar­ri­ers and was plowed over by two other rid­ers. He suf­fered a bro­ken right scapula and hand in­juries, and he had to with­draw from the rest of the race. Sa­gan was dis­qual­i­fied.

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