Tour de France 2013: Crash leaves Mark Cavendish too exhausted for final sprint


with the Tour de France

Britain's Mark Cavendish failed to take a widely expected second straight stage victory following a crash in the final hour of racing and was forced instead to settle for fourth place behind the German winner André Greipel in Montpellier.

With his National Champion's jersey ripped and blackened with road grime, Cavendish sped into the final kilometre in the middle of the main pack of sprinters. Clearly in danger of being blocked, he accelerated through the front end of the bunch as the final surge for the line began. But after having to weave past a rider fading out of the sprint depleted Cavendish's energy reserves even further, the Briton's drive for the line sagged in the crucial last metres.

Even while Greipel was raising his arms in the air, Cavendish was already easing back, implicitly recognising that this time he was about to experience a rare sprint defeat. Although it is all too frequent for riders to touch wheels and go flying in the fraught, high-paced first week finales of the Tour, sitting at the foot of his team bus stairs – his default position for discussing defeats with the press – Cavendish said that on this occasion it was pure bad luck that he went down with around 35 kilometres to go.

"I came out a roundabout, it was tight coming out and my front wheel went from under me and I ended up on the ground," he said.

Asked if it had cost him the win, Cavendish said: "Not necessarily a factor, but it took a lot of energy to get back and André is a very good sprinter." He was, he said, "very disappointed," but pointed out that the team had ridden well and he already had a win in the bag. "It's okay," Cavendish concluded, "you just have to accept it."

"I think the crash really took it out of him, he's not at 100 percent," Cavendish's team-mate Michael Kwiatkowski said. "It's a pity he didn't win but we must remember we still have many stages to go."

Cavendish's last bad crash in the Tour came at stage four's bunch finish sprint to Rouen last year, when a rider skidded on a discarded plastic bottle and Cavendish fell heavily in the middle of the pack. That was the third in a season which had started with one big crash in Qatar and was followed by another when a dangerous manoeuvre in the Giro d'Italia by rival Roberto Ferrari saw Cavendish poleaxed at 60 kmh again. Following a much more accident-free start to the 2013 season, today was a brutal reminder of how fine a line between fortune and disaster it is that Cavendish and the remainder of the Tour peloton are riding.

Whilst Cavendish looks certain to continue racing, albeit battered and bruised, the high speeds and crashes of the Tour's first week are beginning to take their toll amongst the general classification contenders.

Greipel's Belgian team-mate Jurgen van den Broeck, twice fourth overall in the Tour, failed to start after badly injuring his right knee in a late pile-up on Wednesday and 2012 Giro winner Ryder Hesjedal has been racing with a broken rib since the big crash on the very first stage. Slovenian Janez Brajkovic, ninth overall last year, crossed the line over 10 minutes down with blood pouring down his chin after crashing in the last kilometres.

The yellow jersey, meanwhile, remains in the possession of Australian squad Orica-GreenEdge, but is now held by Daryl Impey, the first South African to lead the Tour in the race's history thanks to his better placing in the sprint than overnight leader and team-mate Simon Gerrans. "We'll try and hold it until the mountains," Impey said, with today's rolling stage to Albi, looming fast on the horizon.

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine