Mark Cavendish philosophical over Tour de France exit
British sprinter takes blame for crash on first stage of race
Mark Cavendish speaks to the press after it was confirmed he will miss the rest of the Tour de France following the shoulder injury he suffered on the first stage in Harrogate on Saturday. Photograph: Tim Ireland/PA
The 29-year-old Omega Pharma-QuickStep sprinter did not start Sunday’s second stage from York to Sheffield due to the pain caused when he tumbled to the tarmac in a frantic finale on stage one.
The 25-times Tour stage winner suffered a separated AC joint after colliding with Australian Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) as Giant-Shimano’s Marcel Kittel won the stage and with it the yellow jersey.
“I’m absolutely devastated,” Cavendish said at York Racecourse.
“We kind of knew last night. We knew straight away. I normally bounce back from crashes quite well; I assessed my body yesterday and for the first time in my career I knew something was wrong.
“I was in pain last night. I held a bit of optimism that it was maybe just swelling and would go down overnight, but it’s actually worse this morning. It’s not possible to start from a medical point of view.”
It is still uncertain if Cavendish will be able to participate in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow for the Isle of Man.
“I need to go and get an MRI and perhaps surgery,” Cavendish said.
“I’ll try and get that sorted as soon as possible.”
Cavendish was pursuing a first yellow jersey of his distinguished career in his mother’s home town when he crashed 250 metres from the finish line.
“I tried to find a gap that wasn’t there,” he said
Despite being in obvious pain, Cavendish was determined to cross the line after around two million fans lined the roadside for the 190.5-kilometre route from Leeds.
Cavendish said: “I wanted to finish. The crowd that was out, I had to get my bike to the finish.”
It is the first time since 2008 – when he left prematurely to prepare for the Beijing Olympics – that Cavendish will not complete the Tour.
The 2011 points classification winner and world champion won in Paris for four consecutive years from 2009 to 2012.
Omega Pharma-QuickStep was built around Cavendish for the Tour, but now has to revise its plans.
World time-trial champion Tony Martin could have opportunities, while Paris-Roubaix winner Niki Terpstra could seek to triumph on Wednesday’s fifth stage over many of the cobbles over which he won in April.
Cavendish added: “We’ve got an incredible team here with Omega Pharma-QuickStep.
“The team will continue to ride incredible for the next 20 days and I’d have loved to be part of their success.”