Tour de France: Mark Cavendish's charge held back by crash controversy

British sprinter can only finish third but is cleared by officials of forcing Dutch rival off the road

with the Tour de France

Mark Cavendish's usual domination of the Tour de France sprints suffered another setback when a combination of misfiring team tactics, a wind-buffeted finale and a collision conspired to relegate him to third on the 10th stage. Sky's Chris Froome, however, finished in the peloton to retain the overall leader's yellow jersey.

Cavendish's Omega Pharma-Quick Step team tried to take control of the speeding pack in the last six kilometres into Saint-Malo but ended up getting blocked behind. Matters then worsened when the Briton had a speeding side-collision with sprinter Tom Veelers, sending the Dutchman flying. By the time Cavendish regained full acceleration, Marcel Kittel, the winner of the first stage, had beaten fellow German André Greipel to the line, with Cavendish forced to settle for third.

Afterwards Cavendish was accused by Veelers of having caused him to crash, which if officially upheld could have led to him facing a punishment. However, the race jury ruled that Cavendish was not at fault and that the collision had been unintentional.

"I just followed the road, the road went to the left, I just did a normal sprint and I hope Tom is okay," Cavendish said.

However, Veelers was adamant that Cavendish had pushed him intentionally. "I did a sprint to put Marcel Kittel on the front and I was dropping back and suddenly I got ridden off my bike by Mark Cavendish," the Dutchman said. He added that he was covered in cuts and scrapes and that "it was clear from the video [replay]" that he had been "ridden onto the ground" by the Briton.

Kittel, on the other hand, totally disagreed with his team-mate and said that Cavendish was not at fault. "It was very unlucky, Tom was going out [dropping back], Cavendish was going up, their handlebars clashed and he [Veelers] just lost control. I cannot imagine it was on purpose, it's something that just happens sometimes." The race officials agreed and Cavendish was not declassified.

Cavendish's brilliant season prior to this month, taking all five bunch sprints out of a possible five in the Giro d'Italia as well as the points jersey, highlights the contrast with his relatively below-expectations Tour to date, where he has one stage win so far. But it is only disappointing in contrast with Cavendish's usual incredibly high level of performance.

Speaking about what happened tactically in the closing stages, Cavendish said: "[Team-mate and key wing-man Gert] Steegmans took me up to the front a little too early, we'd run out of guys [team-mates], so I tried to get back in [to the main group of sprinters]. Then when I went for it [accelerate], it was too late and there were guys [rivals] ahead of me already. We could have done things a little bit different but that's bike racing."

Team sources told The Independent that Cavendish's fitness was not to blame, despite the early bout of bronchitis that weakened the Briton in the early stages. "There are no excuses, Mark is fine, we just got beat in the good old fashioned way," his Omega manager, Brian Holm, said.

As Cavendish points out, just taking one stage in the Tour is enough to make a rider's career, let alone a season. He already has 24 to his name, including one in this year's Tour, and if his chances of a repeat victory in the points competition look increasingly remote there are still probably three more opportunities on flat stages before the race finishes in Paris for the Briton to make up for earlier disappointments.

For the favourites, meanwhile, tomorrow's 33km time trial in Britanny could see Froome open up his overall advantage to race-winning proportions. The omens could not be better for the Briton, already revealed to be the strongest Tour rider in the mountains even if there are major question marks surrounding his team's collective condition.

In Froome's previous time trial this year, at the Critérium du Dauphiné last month over a similar distance, he put 2min 37sec into Alejandro Valverde, currently his closest rival, and even more into the rest of the overall contenders in the Tour.

"It's definitely a day that could shape the general classification," Froome said, "I will do the best ride I can do, and hopefully I can extend my lead."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
News
i100
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
people
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
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

Project Manager (App development, SAP, interfacing)

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum + excellent company benefits: Clearwater People Solu...

Systems Developer Technical Lead

£65000 - £70000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

Energy Engineer

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy En...

Techincal Accountant-Insurance-Bank-£550/day

£475 - £550 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Technical Accountant-Insuran...

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment