Tour de France 2014: Cavendish crashes out to put Tour future in jeopardy

Britain’s top sprinter suffers a painful shoulder injury and will learn on Sunday if his race is over

harrogate

Mark Cavendish’s future in the Tour is in the balance after his dream of wearing the first yellow jersey in his mother’s home town was shattered within sight of the line yesterday, as the sprinter slammed into the ground in a high-speed crash on the streets of Harrogate.

The Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider leaned hard against the Australian Simon Gerrans in the final metres in a bid to gain space to launch his sprint, but Cavendish’s lunge to the left cost him dearly as his front wheel skewed, his bike spun sideways and he somersaulted.

Seconds later Cavendish was slumped on the ground, in tears and clutching his right shoulder. When he had recovered himself sufficiently he gingerly pedalled towards the finish line and then a race medical vehicle took him to hospital.

Cavendish reportedly separated the acromioclavicular (AC) joint between his right shoulder and collarbone. Last night further reports indicated that he had suffered severe ligament damage but had not broken any bones when he tumbled to the tarmac in the accident, which he admits he caused himself.

 

A decision on his participation in the rest of the Tour was expected to be made this morning.“I’m gutted about the crash today,” Cavendish said. “It was my fault. I’ll personally apologise to Simon Gerrans as soon as I get the chance. In reality, I tried to find a gap that wasn’t really there.

“I wanted to win today, I felt really strong and was in a great position to contest the sprint thanks to the unbelievable efforts of my team. Sorry to all the fans that came out to support – it was truly incredible.”

Mark Cavendish hits the ground after he is caught up in a crash with Simon Gerrans Mark Cavendish hits the ground after he is caught up in a crash with Simon Gerrans Cavendish’s team had deliberately timed their move to try to guide the Briton to the finish as late as possible so that he would conserve maximum energy for what looked to be a tricky, uphill sprint finish.

The sudden sight of Cavendish’s team-mates Michel Golas and Tony Martin curling out of the front of the bunch with four kilometres to go, with Cavendish bobbing securely behind their wheels, made it clear that the Belgian squad were hunting for a 26th Tour stage win for the Briton with clinical vengeance.

However, when Fabian Cancellara, the Swiss rider, shot away on the right-hand side of the road, it seemed to unsettle the Omega Pharma attack line. Then Cavendish himself dropped back as the road rose towards the finish. His jostling for position to try to rebound from the mini-setback ended in disaster.

Cavendish holds his collarbone as he is clearly in pain Cavendish holds his collarbone as he is clearly in pain “He was really impatient, he wanted to win,” Patrick Lefevre, Cavendish’s team manager, said. “He has already done this sprint 100 times in his head before. He’ll be really disappointed, of course, it’s his [mother’s] home town, he was very focused, maybe too focused.

“He was so sure to win that he probably made a mistake. Gerrans came next to him, slowed down, he wanted to get out, and he pushed with the shoulder and Gerrans pushed back and they crashed.”

Incredibly given the risks sprinters take, Cavendish’s injury looks to be the worst of his eight-year career. In 2010, he suffered an appalling crash in the Tour de Suisse, badly scraping and cutting himself, but he was able to continue racing for two more days.

Up ahead of Cavendish’s disaster, victory went to Marcel Kittel for the second year running. The German managed to outpower Slovakia’s Peter Sagan and the Lithuanian Ramunas Navardauskas by more than a bike length.

“For me it was not a goal to beat Mark Cavendish here in his home town, it was all about winning the first stage of the Tour de France. I am sure that Cavendish would have been in the mix had he not crashed, and I hope he will be back soon,” said Kittel, who received his yellow jersey from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry in front of a massive, if notably subdued, crowd in central Harrogate.

Cavendish’s dreadful accident, though, all but overshadowed what had – with the roadside crowds estimated at two million – looked set to be a superb first stage for British cycling, particularly when Chris Froome, Britain’s contender for overall victory, came home in sixth place.

“I felt good and today was about getting to the finish without any big issues,” Froome said. “The guys did a good job keeping me out of harm’s way. It was a shame for Cav in the final [sprint]. It would have been nice to have a British win today.”

Classification from Tour de France after Stage 1 on Saturday:

1. Marcel Kittel (Germany / Giant) 4:44:07"

2. Peter Sagan (Slovakia / Cannondale) ST

3. Ramunas Navardauskas (Lithuania / Garmin)

4. Bryan Coquard (France / Europcar)

5. Michael Rogers (Australia / Tinkoff - Saxo)

6. Chris Froome (Britain / Team Sky)

7. Alexander Kristoff (Norway / Katusha)

8. Sep Vanmarcke (Belgium / Belkin)

9. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spain / Movistar)

10. Michael Albasini (Switzerland / Orica)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect