'Peter Sagan was unlucky' - Former riders defend sprinter over crash that ended Mark Cavendish's Tour
A number of prominent cyclists have moved to defend Peter Sagan after the Slovakian was involved in a crash that saw Mark Cavendish withdraw from the Toyr de France with a broken shoulder.
Cycling's governing body moved quickly to disqualify the world champion from the race for committing a dangerous move in a sprint finish in which he appeared to elbow Cavendish into the crash barriers.
The British rider, who also sustained a nasty cut to his right hand, was taken to hospital for x-rays where it is understood a fractured shoulder was diagnosed.
Cavendish’s sporting director at Dimension Data, Roger Hammond, described Sagan's actions as “a flick of the elbow which was completely outrageous”.
While Hammond was incredulous with Sagan's behaviour, a number of notable cyclists from past and present have defended the Slovakian, describing the disqualification as "unlucky".
Former rider and three-time winner of the Tour de France's green jersey Robbie McEwan believed Sagan's punishment was far too severe.
"I DON'T agree with the expulsion of @petosagan from @LeTour. DQ on the stage ok, but kicked off the Tour!?! NO!" he wrote on Twitter.
German rider Andre Greipel also moved to defend Sagan, calling the decision to disqualify him as "hard."
Three time Olympic road and track medallist Rob Hayles also felt some sympathy for Sagan's role in the crash.
"Cavendish was obviously unlucky to come off the worst, but I also think that Sagan came off a bit unlucky.
"He was in a position that he couldn't get himself out of. The rider was coming up underneath him and the elbow coming out is a natural instinct for a rider.
"When you look at it he was off balance as well. His bike was coming from underneath him and so to balance himself his elbow came out, just to get his centre of gravity back up, and unfortunately Cavendish was there.
"We don't think the elbow actually made contact , but if it did he was already heading to the barriers. So it kind of made things look worse than it was."
Cavendish, who has won 30 career stages, said he was "massively disappointed".
"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," said Cavendish
Sagan's Bora-Hansgrohe team have appealed the decision.
"I can accept the decision but for sure I do not agree with them, because I think I have done nothing wrong," Sagan said in a statement delivered outside the Bora-Hansgrohe team hotel.
"It is very bad that Mark fell down, it is important he can recover well, I am sorry for that.
"As you saw it was a crazy sprint, it was not the first one like that or the last one. I wish that Mark recovers well."