Tour de France 2013: Urine thrown at British rider Mark Cavendish

Incident follows controversial crash in previous stage

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The Independent Online

A spectator at the Tour de France today threw urine on Mark Cavendish.

The British cyclist was competing in the individual time trial event when the incident occurred.

The Manxman declined to answer questions after completing the 33-kilometres stage from Avranches but his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team confirmed what had happened out on a course packed with fans.

"I regret this. I always felt that cycling fans were gentlemen, enthusiastic people," team manager Patrick Lefevere said. "Mark is sad. He's not upset - just sad. I cannot blame anyone. There are 100,000 or 200,000 people on the road, and one person decided to do this."

Omega Pharma-Quick Step team press officer Alessandro Tegner also confirmed the incident.

"Yes, that's true I think. I was behind him. I didn't see it, but I think it's true."

Tegner said the liquid smelled like urine and it was "all over him," and added that Cavendish talked about the incident after completing the time trial.

"He said: 'I really don't know what's going on'."

The incident came a day after the British national champion was embroiled in controversy when a crash late on stage 10 to Saint-Malo sent Tom Veelers to the floor and ended Cavendish's hopes of a stage win.

Although the Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider was cleared of any blame by the race organisers, many fans condemned his actions on social media.

Cavendish's French team-mate Jerome Pineau was the first to confirm that the reaction had escalated out on the course this morning.

"Yesterday I was so proud to see the support at the race but today I am ashamed," he wrote on Twitter.

"Ashamed when my friend MarkCavendish tells me he has been whistled and even sprayed with urine on the course. It's scandalous."

Cavendish remained on the team bus after the stage and offered only a shake of the head when asked to comment on the incident, but another member of staff said with a grin that there had "been a smell" when the Manxman returned to their bus.

Cavendish was among the early runners in today's time trial due to his lowly position in the general classification, and set a time of exactly 42 minutes.