British sprinter Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) has been penalised by the Tour de Suisse race jury for causing a crash at the end of Tuesday’s stage four.

As the sprinters massed in the final run-in to the line in Wettingen at the end of Tuesday’s stage, Cavendish opened up his sprint and took a line that cut across several other riders (see video clip of final kilometre below).

Cavendish then touched wheels with Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo), causing both riders to crash and bringing several other riders down, including Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and Gerald Ciolek (Milram).

The Tour de Suisse race jury held Cavendish responsible, penalising the Briton for “changing his line, putting his colleagues in danger and causing an accident”.

Cavendish has subsequently been handed a 200 Swiss franc fine (approximately £120), deducted 25 sprint classification points and has been given a 30 second time penalty. It’s the second time that Cavendish has been fined this year, after being handed a 6,000 Euro fine for making a rude gesture after winning a stage in the Tour de Romandie.

Cavendish himself escaped major injury, suffering only cuts and bruising but was taken to hospital for precautionary X-rays. It is not yet known whether Cavendish will take to the start line for Wednesday’s stage.

Haussler came off worse, with a deep cut to his arm that required hospital treatment – he has now withdrawn from the race. It’s a blow to Haussler who had just come back on form, winning stage two of the race and leading the sprint classification. His early season was ruined after a prolonged knee injury forced him to miss most of the spring classics.

The German will now try to recuperate ahead of the Tour de France next month.

Arnaud Coyot (Caisse d’Epargne) suffered the worst injuries in the incident. The Frenchman was stretchered off the road with a suspected broken hip.

Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre) avoided the mayhem to win the stage.

Click on the play button to watch footage of the last kilometre of Tour de Suisse stage four

Related links
Tour de Suisse 2010, stage four: Sprinters collide in Tour de Suisse
Cavendish apologises for two-finger salute