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VITTEL, France (CT) – Peter Sagan’s bid to win a sixth consecutive green jersey is over and the Slovakian is heading home after a protest by his Bora-hansgrohe team failed to convince a race jury to reinstate him into the race.
The world road race champion tangled with 30-time Tour stage winner Mark Cavendish at the finish of Tuesday’s fourth stage to Vittel, with the latter hitting a roadside barrier and crashing. He was initially told that he had no fractures but a later re-examination in hospital revealed that his right shoulder blade was fractured.
He subsequently announced that he was heading home.
Sagan was disqualified from the Tour de France after the crash. Close to midnight European time his Bora-hasngrohe team said that it would protest the decision.
“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.”
This morning at the team hotel near the start in Vittel, Sagan gave a brief statement confirming that the disqualification hadn’t been waived and that he would have to leave the race.
“I can just accept the decision but for sure I do not agree with it – I don’t think I did something wrong in the sprint,” he said.
“It is very bad that Mark fell down. It is important that he can recover well. I am sorry for that. It was – how you see already on the internet – it was a crazy sprint. It was not the first one like that and it is not the last one like that.
“I wish Mark to recover well and that is it.”
Under current UCI rules, Sagan’s team had no official way to appeal the decision. Nevertheless it protested it and hoped that a rethink might have happened. Slow motion analysis of the crash suggested that Sagan’s use of his elbow did not cause the crash with Cavendish, but rather the Slovakian’s change of line.
As a result many on social media, including current and former riders, have said that his disqualification from the race was too harsh.
Sagan’s team manager Ralph Denk was emotional at the start venue in Vittel, and spoke to media about what happened and his reaction. He said he still hoped for a last-minute change of mind.
“We made an official protest by the UCI. We did this yesterday evening. Still there is silence and we have no answer,” he said. “Peter is ready to race. If we get the okay, he is around there. And we have still one hour to go, or more than one hour to go.
“I hope the UCI overrules this because in my opinion and the opinion of the team, it is the totally wrong decision. If you see the pictures, Cavendish comes from behind very fast. He touches before Peter. Peter becomes struggling about this touch point from Cavendish [sic] and after that he needs the elbow to balance this case on the bike. You can imagine how hard this is if you are going full speed and you are touched by Cavendish.
“For sure it was not a fight against Cavendish. The elbow was just for balance on the bike, it was not against Cavendish.”
He added that the neither the riders concerned nor the team were given the chance to be part of the discussion, but rather the UCI jury did it without speaking to anyone. He questioned how valid this approach is, pointing out that motorsport does things differently and involves the riders concerned in any incident.
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