VITTEL, France (CT) – Mark Cavendish has been forced to withdraw from the Tour de France as a result of a fractured scapula.
Although initial x-rays after the finish failed to pinpoint any such damage for Mark Cavendish, his Team Dimension Data squad has said that a second set of medical examinations have revealed that fractured shoulder blade.
As a result, the Manxman’s Tour is over.
“I’m obviously massively disappointed to get this news about the fracture,” he said in a team statement. “The team was incredible today. They executed to perfection what we wanted to do this morning. 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.
“I wish the best of luck to my teammates for the rest of the race. Now, I’m looking forward to watching the race on TV, seeing the team fly the flag high for South Africa and raise awareness for Qhubeka.”
Cavendish came down in a crash inside the final 300 metres of the stage to Vittel. World champion Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) moved to his right, thus moving Cavendish towards the barriers. They came into contact with each other and Cavendish crashed.
Speaking after the initial x-rays, he expressed some uncertainty about the declared outcome that no fractures had been revealed.
“I think if it doesn’t show anything, I’ll try [to start],” he said. “But in terms of pain-wise, I’ve done my shoulder twice before and I’m in more pain now than I was for one of my shoulders. So that doesn’t make me too optimistic, just on feeling, but I’m not a doctor.”
He said that if he did get the all clear in the second examination that he would try to continue. However he also said that safety was the most important consideration.
“If I can’t make it worse, then I’ll see. I’m a in a bit of pain, but if I’ve got no movement then ultimately I don’t want to be a risk to the other bike riders as well. If I can’t pull my bars, if I can’t brake with this finger…I know some other guys would try, but I don’t want to be a hazard to the other guys as well.”
As things turn out, his shoulder was worse than was thought and his Tour is over.
“Mark suffered a fracture to the right scapula,” team doctor Adrian Rotunno confirmed. “Fortunately, no surgery is required at this stage, and most importantly there is no nerve damage. He’s been withdrawn from the race for obvious medical reasons, and we’ll continue monitoring him over the coming days.”
Meanwhile after several hours of silence from both Peter Sagan and Bora-hansgrohe, the latter has confirmed that it has protested against the decision and wants him to be able to continue in the race.
“The UCI World Champion Peter Sagan was disqualified today, according to article 12.1.040/ 10.2.2. (irregular sprint) in the result/communiqué,” it said in a statement. “The team disagrees with the decision and protested it officially.
“Peter Sagan rejected to have caused, or in any way intended to cause the crash of Mark Cavendish on the final 200m of the stage. Peter stayed on his line in the sprint and could not see Cavendish on the right side.
“The team applied for a redress of Peter Sagan’s result in stage 4.”
Sagan went to the Team Dimension Data bus after the stage and apologised to Cavendish for the crash. He said in the statement that the fall was an accident.
“In the sprint I didn’t know that Mark Cavendish was behind me,” he stated. “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.”
Cavendish has won 30 stages of the Tour de France. He bounced back from a bout of the Epstein-Barr virus to start the race and was fourth on stage two.
Speaking after the finish of stage four, directeur sportif Roger Hammond said that he believed Cavendish could have won the stage.
“We worked hard,” he told CyclingTips, referring to his recovery from illness. “We worked hard, but not nearly has hard as Mark worked. Let’s take it on the face value – there are riders with glandular fever who don’t ever come back for the whole year. So, professional managed, professionally cared for, which is a credit to everybody who were surrounding him.
“We have got him to a sixth day of racing, fourth in the Tour de France bunch sprint. And then today had he not had an act of violence, he would have probably won the stage in his seventh day of racing.
“That is an incredible, incredible comeback. I don’t ever band [the word] ‘legends’ around, but Mark is one of those. Not many people who can do that, and there are very few people who can or will in the future or in the past.”
Cavendish will now take time away to recover, then aim to come back to next year’s Tour and to equal Eddy Merckx’s stage record of 34 wins.