VITTEL, France — Mark Cavendish was 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. 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.”
One day 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 race.
About 50 yards from the end of Stage 4, Sagan elbowed Cavendish, who was squeezed against the barriers to his right. 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.
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.
“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.
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.
“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, who had won Stage 3, 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.”
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.