Sunday 18 March 2018

Cavendish lashes out after crash claims

Alasdair Fotheringham

Mark Cavendish's usual domination of the Tour sprints suffered another setback when a combination of misfiring team tactics, a wind-buffeted finale and a collision conspired to relegate him to third.

Cavendish's Omega Pharma-Quick Step team tried to take control of the speeding pack in the last six kilometres but ended up getting blocked behind. Matters then worsened when the Briton had a speeding side-collision with Tom Veelers, sending the Dutchman flying.

By the time Cavendish regained full acceleration, Marcel Kittel, the winner of stage one, had beaten fellow German Andre Greipel to the line.

Afterwards, Cavendish was accused by Veelers of having caused him to crash, even though the race jury ruled that the collision had been unintentional.

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 "it was clear from the video (replay)" that he had been "ridden on to the ground" by the Briton.

Kittel, on the other hand, 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."

After tense exchanges amid chaos outside the OPQS bus, Cavendish was asked if the crash was his fault. "What was my fault?" he responded, before grabbing the reporter's tape recorder, putting it on the bus steps and ignoring protests for him to give it back. Eventually, a press officer had to oblige.

"There's no way I'd move on a rider deliberately, especially one not contesting a sprint," he had earlier insisted. "I hope Tom is OK. I've seen the sprint. I believe I didn't move line. I'm actually coming past Veelers and we touch elbows when he moves."

Chris Froome retains his yellow jersey ahead of today's time trial and Dan Martin finished 42nd and stays eighth overall. (© Independent News Service)

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