Sprint ace Mark Cavendish pulled out of the Tour de France on Tuesday, hours after suffering a broken shoulder blade in a horror crash at the end of the fourth stage.
Cavendish had gone to hospital after world champion Peter Sagan elbowed him into the railings by the side of the road at the finish in Vittel.
Sagan was kicked off the Tour for his part in the crash but his Bora team stated they had appealed against the decision by the Tour’s race commission.
Late on Tuesday evening, Cavendish’s Dimension Data team posted a picture of the British rider on Twitter with his arm in a sling, revealing that he was pulling out of the Tour.
“I’m obviously massively disappointed to get this news about the fracture,” said Cavendish.
“I feel I was in a good position to win and to lose that and even having to leave the Tour, a race I have built my whole career around, is really sad.”
— Team Dimension Data (@TeamDiData) July 4, 2017
A bloodied Cavendish had earlier demanded an explanation from Sagan for the elbow that sent him crashing into the barriers, and then to the tarmac, at the end of the 207.5km stage from Mondorf-les-Bains to Vittel.
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Sagan had gone to see Cavendish after the stage but the Briton was still left perplexed as to why the Slovak world champion had elbowed him as they jostled for position down the right-hand side of the road at the sprint finish.
“I was massively grateful that Peter came directly after the finish to see me — I have a good relationship with Peter,” said Cavendish.
“Even with the movement to the right, obviously I wouldn’t be happy but that’s racing. But I was a little bit confused with the elbow, that’s something I’d like to speak to him about.”
The Tour’s race jury had earlier decided to exclude Sagan for the rest of the Tour.
“We’ve decided to disqualify Peter Sagan from the Tour de France 2017 as he endangered some of his colleagues seriously in the final metres of the sprint which happened in Vittel,” said the president of the race commission, Philippe Marien.
But Bora said they had appealed.
“The team disagrees with the decision and protested it officially,” said Bora in a statement.
“The team applied for a redress of Peter Sagan’s result in stage 4.”
Sagan added: “In the sprint I didn’t know that Mark Cavendish was behind me.
“He was coming from the right side, and I was trying to go on (Alexander) Kristoff’s wheel. Mark was coming really fast from the back and I just didn’t have time to react and to go left.
“He came into me and he went into the fence. When I was told after the finish that Mark had crashed, I went straight away to find out how he was doing.
“We are friends and colleagues in the peloton and crashes like that are never nice. I hope Mark recovers soon.”
It continues a terrible season for Cavendish. The 32-year-old Isle of Man born sprint ace — who has 30 stage wins to his name since 2008 — headed into this year’s race having missed two months recovering from glandular fever.