The Tour de France continued to be a school of hard knocks for Mark Cavendish on Monday.
The 22 year-old Manx rider was still smarting from his crash during Sunday?s stage to Canterbury when was caught up in the big crash two kilometres from the end of the stage to Ghent, and again trailed in several minutes after the other sprinters had fought for the stage victory.
Cavendish was fourth in the T-Mobile lead-out train that was moving to the head of the peloton when the crash happened. Erik Zabel (Milram) seemed to touch wheels and lose balance, causing Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas) to crash heavily. He took out Cavendish and other riders, with approximately 20 riders hitting the deck, including race leader Fabian Cancellara. George Hincapie, Thor Hushovd, Daniele Bennati and Fred Rodriguez were all injured in the crash but all finished the stage.
Cavendish landed on the kerb on the right of the road and hurt his hip. He got up slowly and finished 166th. Because the crash occurred inside the final three kilometres, he was given the same time as Steegmans but that was of little help as blood poured down his leg and arm from another set of nasty cuts.
Just like Sunday, Cavendish?s pride was also battered and bruised and he again refused to stop to talk to media in the finish area. He climbed on the T-Mobile bus, the doors were closed and the team left for their hotel without giving any information on Cavendish?s injuries.
Later T-Mobile directeur sportif Valerio Piva said Cavendish was not seriously hurt. ?Mark was in there. Luckily the crash was not as bad as it looked. He hurt his left knee and side, but he?ll be OK.?
Fellow directeur sportif Brian Holm told Cycling Weekly that Cavendish had hurt his left hip but was determined to carry on the Tour. ?He cut his knee and arm and his hip is hurting him The team doctor is looking after him but he?s already talking about winning in Compeigne,? Holm said.
All the other British riders in the Tour de France avoided the carnage. Charly Wegelius, David Millar and Bradley Wiggins finished unscathed, while Geraint Thomas admitted he?d crashed but said he had a soft landing was okay because he ?fell on a fat sprinter?.
Wiggins said he could sense that a crash was going to happen and so once inside the final three kilometres and with his fifth place overall safe, he moved down the bunch to avoid the carnage.
?I could tell there was going to be a crash 20km out and so inside the final three kilometres I eased back, knowing my fifth place overall was safe because if there was a crash we?d be given the same. After it happened we all watched it on the big screen behind us,? Wiggins said.
?Unfortunately Cav got caught in it again and looked pretty p**sed off when I saw him but that?s the Tour. Everybody wants to win.?