Peter Sagan disqualified in Tour de France after appearing to elbow rival and causing a crash

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 July, 2017, 2:33am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 July, 2017, 9:02am

Popular cyclist Peter Sagan’s Tour de France came to an abrupt end on Tuesday when he was disqualified after appearing to cause a competitor to crash into the barrier when he threw out an elbow to prevent Mark Cavendish from passing him.

Tour de France officials made the announcement on Twitter on Tuesday, just hours after Stage 4’s dramatic ending.

As a result, Cavendish has withdrawn from the Tour, the Dimension Data rider announced later on Tuesday.

The crash occurred in the final 200 metres of Tuesday’s 207.5-kilometre stage, from Mondorf-les-Bains, Luxembourg, to Vittel, France. Cavendish, winner of the second-most Tour de France stages in history, tried to pass Stage Three winner Sagan, but instead, he fell into a barrier, suffering what appeared to be a shoulder injury.

“The shoulder,” said Cavendish, 32, referencing the right shoulder, on which he’s had surgery to replace a ligament. “I don’t know if I snapped it.”

The crash, which NBC Sports commentators described as “gruesome,” immediately generated controversy. As Cavendish tried to squeeze through a tight opening against the barrier, Sagan appeared to throw an elbow into him.

“It’s an act of violence,” Team Dimension Data’s performance manager Rolf Aldag said on the NBC Sports broadcast. “To elbow somebody off the bike at that speed is just an act of violence.”

“Race accidents happen, but that was not a race accident in my opinion,” Aldag added, confirming he was petitioning UCI, world cycling’s governing body to disqualify Sagan for his behaviour.

“UCI will hopefully act accordingly to the rules,” he said. “And if that is in the rules that you can elbow someone off the bike, then I think we should rewrite the rules.”

Not everyone was eager to blame Sagan. NBC Sports analysts and former pro cyclists Christian Vande Velde and Bob Roll defended Sagan during the telecast, reasoning that the Slovak rider was reacting to other riders on his left.

“It’s hard to really fault Peter Sagan here,” Vande Velde said. “It looks so brutal from this perspective, but I don’t think he was trying to do that to Mark. I don’t think he was trying to hurt him.”

“Absolutely,” Roll agreed. “No place to go for Mark. He did not have enough room.”

Cavendish, meanwhile, was diplomatic about Sagan’s move.

“I get on with Peter well, but, the elbow,” he said. “I’m not a fan of him putting his elbow in me like that. I’d just like to speak with him about it.”

In fact, Cavendish did briefly get to speak with Sagan, who finished second but was later removed from the standings as officials reviewed his actions during the crash. Sagan later told the media he apologised “because it’s not nice to crash like that.”

He also insinuated that he did not put out his elbow on purpose, noting, “I didn’t have time to react and go left.”

Cavendish, riding for Team Dimension Data, remained on the ground for several minutes after crashing, then remounted his bike to cross the finish line while gingerly holding his right arm. The British rider also suffered a badly cut finger, other scrapes and a possible head injury after the wheels of another rider’s bicycle rolled over his face while he was down.

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The incident involving Cavendish was the second crash in the final three kilometres of Stage 4. The first left dozens of riders on the ground, including current race leader Geraint Thomas of Team Sky. Unlike Cavendish, none of those riders appeared to suffer serious injuries.

“I’m all right,” Thomas said via WalesOnline after the stage that saw him retain his lead. “There was a crash in front of us and again I had nowhere to go. It was just one of those things.”