Peter Sagan disqualified from race for elbowing Mark Cavendish, causing crash
Cyclist causes crash yards from the finish; injured Cavendish withdraws.
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 sustained 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.”
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 doctor Adrian Rotunno said. “Fortunately no surgery is required at this stage, and most importantly there is no nerve damage.”
Race jury president Philippe Marien of the UCI said race rules allowed organizers to disqualify riders in “serious cases.”
“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,” 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-Les-Valence.
“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.
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 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.”
“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,” said France’s Arnaud Demare, who won Tuesday’s stage.
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 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.
Slovakia’s Peter Sagan, second from the left, elbows Great Britain’s Mark Cavendish, left, who falls near the finish line of the Tour de France on Tuesday in Vittel, France.