Sagan kicked out of Tour after Cavendish crash
Britain’s sprint king breaks his shoulder in horror fall blamed on Slovak world champion
Stage four of the Tour de France ended in bloodshed and acrimony after a sickening collision between Mark Cavendish and world champion Peter Sagan.
X-rays revealed Cavendish had broken his right shoulder and has been forced to withdraw from the race.
"I feel I was in a good position to win and to lose that and even having to leave the Tour, a race I've built my whole career around, is really sad," he said.
His sadness won't be eased by the expulsion of Sagan for causing the crash but nonetheless Cavendish will feel that justice has been served on the Slovak rider.
"A crash is a crash,” said Cavendish immediately after the collision. “I have a good relationship with Peter, I'd just like to speak to him about it.
"I get on with Peter well but I'm not a fan of him putting his elbow in me like that."
It was Sagan's right elbow that did the damage, appearing to send Cavendish crashing into the safety barrier 200 metres from the line.
According to The Guardian, "he hit the road so hard he folded the spider and the chainring of his chainset so that they were pointing backwards".
Sagan, who won Monday's third stage, was initially handed a 30-second penalty and relegated from second place in the stage to 115th (last place in the lead group) but on review the race jury decided that the gravity of his misdemeanour warranted expulsion from the Tour.
"We've decided to disqualify Peter Sagan from the Tour de France 2017 after the tumultuous sprint, here in Vittel," they said.
"He endangered multiple riders, Mark Cavendish and others who were implicated in the crash, in the final metres of the sprint. We applied article 12.104, irregular sprints, in which case commissaires are allowed to enforce a judgement to disqualify a rider and amend a fine."
"It’s not nice to crash like that," Sagan said immediately afterwards. "It’s the sprint. I just didn’t know that Mark is behind me. He’s coming from the right side. 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."
Amid the chaos there was also cause to celebrate, at least for French cycling fans. Arnaud Demare, from the FDJ team, won the stage, becoming the first Frenchman to win a bunch sprint stage for 11 years. “It’s extraordinary, it’s marvellous!” declared Demare, who finished second in the sprint finish in Sunday's second stage.
Overall leader Geraint Thomas also fell in the closing stages of the 207.5km stage from Mondorf-les-Bains to Vittel as the road narrowed downhill and turned sharply, but he was able to get back on his bike and cross the finish line. As the fall occurred within the final three kilometres he will be given the same time as the winner.
"I went to the ground, but there was no serious damage,” said Thomas, who retains the yellow jersey, with Chris Froome, his Team Sky team-mate, still in second, 12 seconds behind the Welshman.
Defending champion Froome will be more at home in today's fifth stage, which takes the peloton into the Vosges mountains.
The Tour has come this way before, in 2012 and 2014, and on both occasions the race leader at the summit - Bradley Wiggins in 2012 and Vincenzo Nibali in 2014 - has gone on to win the Tour.