Mark Cavendish’s hopes of winning the green jersey were dealt a severe blow when he was relegated to last place in the bunch at the end of stage 14 to Besançon.

The Isle of Man sprinter went into the day just five points adrift of Thor Hushovd (Cervélo), but a frantic and confusing finale saw the Columbia-HTC team miss out on two fronts.

Early in the day, before the first intermediate sprint, Cavendish got in a break but decided not to persist with it. Later a 12-man break got clear, with his team-mate George Hincapie in it. The break’s lead went up to more than 10 minutes with Hincapie the best-placed, 5-25 minutes down on Rinaldo Nocentini.

The gap came down slowly, offering Hincapie a chance of taking the jersey. Serguei Ivanov surged clear of the break to win the stage alone, and Hincapie crossed the line 16 seconds later in eighth place.

Then all eyes were on the clock. And boy, was it going to be close.

The thing was, Columbia also needed to set up the sprint for Cavendish for him to gain points on Hushovd. He needed to win the bunch sprint for 13th place, and hope that Hushovd slipped up. But Columbia also wanted to stall the pace in the bunch to give Hincapie a chance of a day of glory.

Cavendish won the bunch sprint, crossing the line in 13th place. For Hincapie, they crossed the line six seconds too soon. Rinaldo Nocentini kept yellow.

However, in the final metres Cavendish drifted slightly to his right as he was looking over his left shoulder, expecting Hushovd to try to pass him on that side. His movement steered Hushovd into the barriers and the Norwegian had to brake as he crossed the line to finish 14th, shouting at Cavendish as he did. Cervélo complained and the race jury agreed. Cavendish was relegated to 154th place and therefore won no points.

Now Cavendish trails Hushovd by 18 points with precious few oportunities to make up the deficit.

In a statement released by his team, Hushovd said; “[Cavendish] tried to push me in the barriers. I could pass him, and when he saw me coming, he pushed me into the barriers. That’s not fair game. I am really tired of this. That’s why we put in a protest, so I hope he is going to be disqualified on the stage.”

“It was the first time today, when I saw what happened, I couldn’t believe it. Today I cannot accept it. That’s not correct what he did today. I had to brake. I could have passed him, but I had to brake. It’s OK if he’s faster than me, I accept it, when he doesn’t follow the rules, then that’s not good.”

Cavendish said nothing in public. He got in the Columbia bus immediately, although it’s a safe bet to say he’s livid. His team mate and lead out man Mark Renshaw said on his Twitter feed; “We sprinted in line with the barrier, Its not our fault the barrier was uneven on the right. Come on ASO, make them even in the last 1km.”

The Briton is now playing catch up. There are intermediate sprints to fight for, but with Hushovd riding so strongly the chance of narrowing the gap significantly in the Alps is very slim.

Friday’s stage to Aubenas has a second-category climb near the finish and the way Hushovd has been riding, he could get over it and score more points.

If the gap remains 18 going into the final stage to the Champs-Elysees, Cavendish will have to win and hope Hushovd is outside the top ten. It’s a very tall order.

It is now conceivable that Cavendish could win five stages of the Tour but fall short in the green jersey competition.

tour de france, 2009 tour de france, stage 14, besancon, serguei ivanov, mark cavendish, thor hushovd, alberto contador, lance armstrong

Tour de France 2009 – the hub: Index to reports, photos, previews and more.


Stage 13: Haussler braves rain for victory in Colmar

Stage 12: Sorensen wins in Vittel as Cavendish goes for green

Stage 11: Cavendish takes fourth win to equal Hoban’s record

Stage 10: Cavendish spoils Bastille Day party to take third stage win

Stage nine: Third French win as contenders content with ceasefire

stage eight: Sanchez wins from break as Tour favourites cancel each other out

Stage seven: Feillu wins at Arcalis, Nocentini takes yellow, Contador leap-frogs Lance

Stage six: Millar’s brave bid denied on Barcelona hill as Hushovd triumphs

Stage five: Voeckler survives chase to win his first Tour stage

Stage four: Astana on top but Armstrong misses yellow by hundredths of a second

Live Tour de France stage four TTT coverage

Stage three: Cavendish wins second stage as Armstrong distances Contador

Stage two: Cavendish takes first sprint

Stage one: Cancellara wins opening time trial


Tour de France 2009 News Index>>

Cavendish reveals he is going for green

Tour comment: The suspense is killing us

Analysis: Why Cavendish is one of the modern greats

Radio ban over-turned for Friday’s Tour stage

Arvesen out of Tour with fractured collarbone

Tour analysis: Why the go slow did cycling no favours on Bastille Day

Cavendish’s odd stage 10 finish celebration explained

No radios today, but experiment could be a one-off

Tour audio: Mark Cavendish after stage 10

Contador brushes aside talk of Armstrong conflict

Cavendish odds-on favourite for Bastille Day victory

The Tour de France Comment: Monday, July 13

How the favourites are doing (first rest day)

Wiggins stays with leaders at Tour

Armstrong: ‘If Contador wins, I’ll be second’

Wiggins ‘on cloud nine’ at Tour de France

Armstrong says Contador attack wasn’t in the plan

Cavendish survives the first Tour mountain stage with ease

Wiggins, the Tour de France overall contender, has arrived


Garmin-Slipstream’s HQ before the Tour

David Zabriskie’s time trial bike

Mark Cavendish on the Tour’s team time trial

David Brailsford interview

Mark Cavendish on the Tour

Jonathan Vaughters on Bradley Wiggins’ chances


Stage 12 photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage 11 photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage 10 photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage nine photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage eight photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage seven photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage six photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage five photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage four TTT photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage three photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage one photo gallery by Andy Jones

Stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson

Team presentation by Andy Jones

Team presentation by Graham Watson

Tour de France 2009 – the hub
Tour de France 2009: Who’s riding
Tour de France 2009: Team guide
About the Tour de France

Tour de France 2009: Who will win?
Tour de France 2009 on TV: Eurosport and ITV4 schedules
Big names missing from 2009 Tour de France
Tour de France anti-doping measures explained
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish
Cycling Weekly’s rider profiles


Follow the Tour on Cycling Weekly’s Twitter feed


  • ron

    The green jersey is a joke. When you win a stage you should get much more than 5 pts. more than the 2nd place winner anyway. The focus should be on winning. Cavendish has dominated this tour and out sprinted Thor head to head everytime.

  • Scunnerous

    The result of this little confrontation doesn’t concern me that much one way or the other and I’m not a Cavendish fan. The overhead video, however, clearly shows the barrier on the right pinching in on Hushovd while Cavendish takes a straight line — nope, no move right I’m afraid — towards the finish line. Did Hushovd expect Cavendish to figure “oh dear I’d better move left and leave enough space for Thor just in case he decides to come past me and didn’t see the pinch in the barriers”? Really is Hushovd a sprinter or not? If so he should have seen the upcoming squeeze in the available road – he was on the wrong side, on purpose?.. so he could complain?

    As for Hushovd saying “I can pass him….”. Oh yeah Thor? It hasn’t happened yet and to tell the truth you haven’t even come close to matching Cavendish’s speed, never mind pass him; you’ve been left in such a cloud of dust every time so far that we have to take that with a pinch — umm bucket — of salt. If you take your losses that badly, maybe time to think of retiring. Cheating is not nice and when compounded with whinging it’s offensive.

  • joel

    DJ is wrong, the video shows that Cavendish looked over his right shoulder towards Hushovd before making his move, and that is a big part of why he was DQ’d. Far from being a farce, as R.S. Ekins claims, the commission can make no other ruling when that happens. It’s in the rules. And why should following the rules be defined by Angharad as sneakiness on the part of Hushovd? Rubbish.

  • Night Train

    Hushovd came across on TV as sneaky, self-righteous, almost a little bit cowardly, and his statement reinforces this impression. The Vikings wouldn’t have amounted to much would they, if they had gone off bleating to referees when the raiding and pillaging didn’t quite go their way? Pathetic I’m afraid, and it will tarnish his green jersey if he manages to hang onto it. As for the Commissaire Mr Bruin, he clearly was enjoying his power. If I was running a race he would be summarily booted off the Commissaire’s list after that performance. His petty decision has wrecked a great competition which would have gone right to the end. And is it not quite incredible, that the opinion of one power-loving individual making an arbitrary decision, can almost certainly decide a thrilling contest in the biggest bike race in the world? As though it were some amateur junior criterium at a village sports day???

    Embarrassing. Not good enough. Sort it out. Give the points back, make a contest of it, and make that fatuous Bruin ride all the way back to Holland on a Penny Farthing with flat tires.

  • DJ

    Getting Cavendish disqualified was the only way Hushovd was going to win green. The overhead pictures show that Cav held his line and the uneven barriers created the problem.

  • Bjoern

    It look likes every uk newsite is writing in fawour of mark.C.
    Thor Hushovd was deplased in the 2006 thour the france for the same reason that Mark C.
    I had no doubt when i saw the sprint that Cavendish would be deplased after the sprint.
    I think that cycling are loosing som of the gentlemans orders with new gays lik Cav.
    you dont try to take out your competitors like this.
    As hushovd says Cav is the best sprinter but he has to follow the roules .
    he did not only want to be first over the ine but he would to try to get so many of the other between him and hushovd.
    just before the turn he looked and saw that hushov came on the right side then he closed the opening.
    That is not a fair game

  • Trond

    It needs to be said that Cavendish was disqualified before Cervelo even handed in their appeal. And everyone can see for themselves how different this sprint was when it comes to Cavendish. It was obvious he had more on his mind than getting in front of Hushovd. Cavendish changed his course in the sprint and that’s all it takes to be disqualified. The green jersey is about more than winning sprints at the finish, and Hushovd is the only one of them who has shown that. No reason for him to cheat.

  • Angharad

    So the sneaky Norwegian is going to cheat his way to the green jersey is he? He tried to sneak past Cavendish on the blind side. Why would Cavendish have to block him, he’s so much faster anyway. I think Hushovd is using gamesmanship because it’s the only way he’s going to beat Cav.

  • derek biggerstaff

    Cavendish closed the door before Hushovd made his move so it was not a dangerous manouver. I suppose it was still an infringement, but can anyone remember the commisaires being this pedantic before? A lot worse has gone unpunished.

  • R.S.Ekins

    Regarding Mark Cavendish.

    IThe commissaires are appaling and this Tour is becoming a farce.