Sagan disqualified from Tour after Cavendish crashes

Mark Cavendish being elbowed by Peter Sagan

Race judges ruled that Cavendish (far left) was put into the barriers by Sagan

World champion Peter Sagan was disqualified from the Tour de France for causing Mark Cavendish to crash on stage four.

The Briton accused Sagan of elbowing him during the sprint finish in Vittel.

Cavendish, 32, finished the stage after receiving medical treatment for several minutes, before going for an X-ray.

“I get on well with Peter and a crash is a crash but I’m not a fan of him putting his elbow in,” said Dimension Data rider Cavendish.

Briton Geraint Thomas kept his overall lead as Arnaud Demare became the first Frenchman to win a bunch sprint stage at the Tour since 2006.

Defending champion Chris Froome remains second overall, 12 seconds behind compatriot Thomas.

Crash mars Demare’s maiden win


In scenes reminiscent of the opening stage in Harrogate in 2014, Cavendish received treatment on the road

The sprint for the line was in full flow with Cavendish tracking Demare down the right-hand side of the road with the riders travelling at about 60km/h.

Sagan also moved to his right to use Frenchman Demare as a lead-out man and, from cameras behind the race, seemed to flick an elbow out at Cavendish as the two battled for space.

The camera angle from the front suggested Sagan was trying to keep his balance but leaving Cavendish with nowhere to go except into the barriers.

Cavendish, who has won 30 Tour de France stages – four behind the all-time record of Eddy Merckx – said Sagan apologised to him after the stage.

The Manxman landed heavily on the right shoulder that he dislocated when he crashed out on stage one of the 2014 Tour de France in Harrogate.

His right hand was bandaged before he remounted his bike and pedalled over the line.

“I need stitches in a finger,” said Cavendish, who also had his right arm in a sling after the stage.

“It’s something to do with the shoulder that I hurt in Harrogate. I’m not a doctor but I’m not optimistic.”


An injured Cavendish crosses the line in Vittel

Slovakian Sagan stayed upright to finish second on the stage, but his disqualification means his hopes of equalling Erik Zabel’s record of winning six successive points classification titles is over.

The Bora-Hansgrohe rider said before his disqualification was announced: “He was coming from behind. I did not have time to react and go left. He came to me and I had to defend.”

Asked if he had apologised for the crash, he said: “For sure, because it’s not nice to crash like that.”

Dimension Data sporting director Roger Hammond tweeted an overhead view of the incident with the words: “Causes a big crash at 1.5 to go, elbows fellow competitor in the head 300 meters… can only result in one decision. #Goodbye.”

The initial stage results posted on the Tour’s website showed Sagan had been docked 30 seconds and 80 points, but Dimension Data contested that decision.

After a review, Philippe Marien, president of the race commission, said: “We’ve decided to disqualify Peter Sagan as he endangered some of his colleagues seriously in the final metres of the sprint in Vittel.

“We will apply article 12.104 of the rules of the UCI… in which case commissaires (the race jury) can decide to enforce a judgement to disqualify a rider.”


Hammond tweeted a screen grab of the incident, with Cavendish far right

‘Extremely harsh to disqualify Sagan’ – analysis

Former GB cyclist Rob Hayles on BBC Radio 5 live

Cavendish was unlucky to come off the worst. I also think Sagan has come off unlucky. It is extremely harsh.

He was in a position he couldn’t get himself out of. The bike was coming from underneath him and the elbow coming up is a natural instinct of the rider. He was off balance as well.

It is true from first look it appears that he gets his elbow up and ‘whack, have some of that, Cavendish’. It made it look worse than it was.

Initially we heard that they had relegated Sagan to the back of the peloton and a 30-second penalty. I thought that was fair. Something had to be done and they needed to make a decision.

An hour later they disqualified him. It is bad for Sagan and really bad for the race – the world champion with a potential green jersey going home. It is a brave decision by the commissaires.

They have said it is an irregular sprint. That is sprinting; they are all irregular.

Had Sagan not done what he did he would have gone down himself. He had nowhere to go other than to put his brakes on and they don’t do that.

Thomas retains race lead

The 207km stage from Mondorf-les-Bains had been a relatively sedate race after Belgian Guillaume van Keirsbulck made a solo break from the start.

He led for around 191km, building a lead of 13 minutes, before being caught by the peloton as the teams of the sprinters jostled to get their riders in the best positions.

Welshman Thomas was also brought down in a separate crash in the closing stages but said: “Luckily I took off most of the speed.”

He said Team Sky team-mate Froome was also “OK” after being held up by the incident.

Thomas crossed the line more than two minutes after Demare, but because the crash happened in the final 3km on a designated sprint stage, he was credited with the same time as the winner and retains the yellow jersey.

Alexander Kristoff was promoted to second and Andre Greipel third after the disqualification of Sagan, who finished second.

All the other general classification riders finished with the same time, meaning no significant changes in the standings.

Stage five is the first mountain-top finish of the race, at La Planche des Belles Filles, the scene of Froome’s first Tour stage win in 2012.

Stage four result:

1. Arnaud Demare (Fra/FDJ) 4hrs 53mins 54secs

2. Alexander Kristoff (Nor/Katusha) Same time

3. Andre Greipel (Ger/Lotto)

4. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra/Cofidis)

5. Adrien Petit (Fra/Direct Energie)

6. Juergen Roelandts (Bel/Lotto)

7. Michael Matthews (Aus/Sunweb)

8. Manuele Mori (Ita/UAE Team Emirates)

9. Tiesj Benoot (Bel/Lotto)

10. Zdenek Stybar (Cze/Quick-Step)

General classification after stage four:

1. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Sky) 14hrs 54mins 25secs

2. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) +12secs

3. Michael Matthews (Aus/Sunweb) Same time

4. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor/Dimension Data) +16secs

5. Pierre Latour (Fra/AG2R) +25secs

6. Philippe Gilbert (Bel/Quick-Step) +30secs

7. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol/Team Sky) +32secs

8. Tim Wellens (Bel/Lotto) Same time

9. Arnaud Demare (Fra/FDJ) +33secs

10. Nikias Arndt (Ger/Sunweb) +34secs

Selected others:

18. Simon Yates (GB/Orica-Scott) +45secs

20. Richie Porte (Aus/BMC Racing) +47secs

21. Nairo Quintana (Col/Movistar) +48secs

24. Romain Bardet (Fra/AG2R) +51secs

26. Fabio Aru (Ita/Astana) +53secs

27. Alberto Contador (Spa/Trek-Segafredo) +54secs

29. Jakob Fuglsang (Den/Astana) Same time

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