Mark Cavendish’s sprint for a second win in the Tour de France ended in chaos today in Saint-Malo. He and Tom Veelers (Argos-Shimano) crossed paths, with Cavendish leaving his rival on the ground.

Journalists swarmed the Argos-Shimano and Omega Pharma-Quick Step buses and Cavendish, clearly disappointed, responded angrily when a journalist asked if it was his fault.

“What was what?” Cavendish said while taking the journalist’s recorder. After it was returned, Cavendish said, “I lost the sprint, it was my fault. It was my fault for losing the sprint.”

Around 200 metres out, the two cyclists bumped shoulders. Veelers had finished leading out Marcel Kittel, who went on to win the stage, and was drifting back as Cavendish was starting his sprint. The TV images shows Veelers slighting moving right and Cavendish starting to move to his left  with the road. They bumped shoulders and Veelers went down.

Cavendish continued to finish third behind André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol), but shaking his head as he crossed the line.

“We came up, we lost our guys, Gert [Steegmans] went early,” Cavendish said. “I tried to follow Gert, if I had followed off his wheel and launched I would’ve been too early in the sprint so I settled back on Veelers wheel. Yeah, so when Greipel came, I went.”

“I know you’re trying to get all the ‘Mark Cavendish is a really bad sprinter again’ but with 150 metres to go the road bears left…All I do is follow the road…There will be net forums with people going mad about it but I follow the road, I’m not going to hit the barriers…” Cavendish added.

“The commissaires are already putting the blame on me [the commissaires actually said Veelers was at fault as he was leaving the sprint – Ed]…You can see he moves a little bit right, I move a little bit left…It’s not like I took his wheel, I’m following the road…It was the arms that touched anyway…”

He explained that the Tour de France organisers are partly to blame. “The road is going left. Make it a straight sprint [if you don’t want any incidents].”

The incident left Veelers bloody and upset. “I did my lead-out for Marcel, and as I did my job, I went out of the way. And it was Cavendish who took me off my bike. When I see the video it’s very clear it’s his fault, he has to be disqualified,” Veelers said.

“It’s unbelievable that something like that happens. I want apologies at least. I’m a little finished with Cavendish.”

Omega’s sport and development manger, Rolf Aldag told Cycling Weekly that Cavendish held greater blame. “Cav obviously has done the bigger move, we’re not blind, and Veelers lost his balance,” Aldag said. “The guy coming from behind has the advantage of seeing what happens. Cav was looking for the fastest line to the finish, which was to go to the left. Should he be disqualified? I don’t think so. It was not done on purpose.”

Kittel agreed and said, “It just happens. I saw the video of the crash, it was very unlucky that they bumped,” Kittel said in the press conference.

“Tom was going out, Cav was coming up from the right and their handlebars touched. Tom couldn’t control it and crashed. I can’t imagine that it was on purpose. It was the last moment of the sprint and sometimes that’s something that just happens.”

  • Carn Soaks

    The real line was to the left, and Cav went right… that makes sense. Then realised later he needed to go left, so in his malevolence he “coat hangered” a guy looking the other way. Veelers played the sprint like a pro (all fair and usual – didnt come 1 whole foot off his line) and Cavendish like a brat and a mug. And like a petulant, get everthing your own way, couldn’t even accept he was wrong adolescent, lied and tantied.

    So Cool, gonna buy some CVNDSH sunnys now hey.

  • Ken Evans

    The Quick Step lead out train isn’t very good at delivering Cav to the right place at the right time. Cav keeps on expecting them to perform, and they keep on failing. Cav might be better off freelancing the last Kilo. Veelers moved off his line to block Cav, he looked back to see Cav, and still he didn’t move out of Cav’s way. I would have given Veelers a fine of several thousands of Euros.

  • madmike

    PBBK wrote it perfectly. Don’t forget about Sagan behind Veelers… That was real purpose of this accident. The n.1 Cav’s rival this year…..

  • Burger

    Rubbing is racing…..

    -Cole Trickle

  • Nico

    Seems to me the comments largely reflect the nationality of person commenting!

    Here are the opinions of those closest to the actual incident: Kittel – not Cav’s fault. Sagan – not Cav’s fault. McKewen – not Cav’s fault. Head of the race jury – not Cav’s fault, if anything Veelers was to blame – no sanctions even being considered. Team Argos Shimano – no complaint about the incident.

    The outpouring of bile against the best sprinter of his generation has been appalling (not so much on here, but in other places) and, let’s face it, is nothing more than nationalistic jealousy.

    Perhaps we Brits should celebrate the reaction; no-one would care if we weren’t being so successful!

    I note there was no comment at all about Kennaugh being shoved into a ditch on the second mountain stage!

  • pbbk

    So they had ejected Ted King because he came 7 sec after the time limit in the stage 5 ( not to mention he was badly injured from stage 1 ) .. and they had not punished Cavendish for this ? I thought sports should be fair…this was clearly not…he was intentionaly pushing him off the bike with his elbow, it was almost like a body check in ice hockey … and TV channel ive watched this on aired some slow-mo of this and it was visible from body movement and face expressions of Cavendish he was doing it inetenionaly, there was even a referee from UCI talking about this in studio and he said he would give a proposal for ejection from race .. I bet if it was not Cavendish who did this, but any other racer they would punish him … and I think the purpose of this was to take Sagan down , Cavendish knew he was behind him …but its just my opninon , hope Veelers is ok

  • Robin Ramsay

    Interesting – but not surprising: cyclists know cycling – to see the lack of sympathy for Cavendish on this forum. The overhead shots suggest that Veelers was trying – fairly subtly – to impede Cavendish, who shoulder-charged him out of the way. That’s about par for the course in pro sprinting. It’s the bullshit Cavendish offered up afterwards which is so nauseating.

    Robin Ramsay

  • tdf-fan

    In my opinion, Veelers drifted a fraction, (totally unintentionally) after finishing his lead out for Kittel. Then, in the heat of the moment, Cavendish reacts by deliberately shouldering Veelers.

    Cavendish should definitely be fined and kicked off the tour.

    Remember Renshaw in 2010. He got kicked off the tour for a similar reaction – though he didn’t knock anyone off his bike and was much more seriously provoked.

  • Michael

    Rolf has probably got it right – shared blame but Cav did have a choice.. and i don’t believe either wanted the outcome that resulted
    However its no more likely that Veelers will admit he was looking to stall Cav as it is for Cav to admit he was prepared to make contact to keep his line – therefore its another ‘racing incident’
    I’ll be interested to see whether Veelers keeps to his line in the next sprint – i know i would 🙂

  • Jack

    Unpopular opinion; Cav reacted horribly, Veelers didn’t come out his line enough for that to go down like that. He should be punished.

  • MrPeePee

    I’ve watched this a few times now and it seems to be a lot of hot air over nothing. Just because it’s Cav and in the sprint. Similar falls in other parts of the race are not getting the same scrutiny – i.e when Pete Kennaugh was bumped off the road in stage nine.

    The fact is, as Tom Veelers slows, he moves right (don’t forget the road is about to go left). By this time, Cav is on full gas and has to jink right to avoid Veelers, but then try and get left for the upcoming corner. The act of doing this leans him in with the added momentum of going for it, clashes shoulders and Veelers falls.

    I think it’s just a racing incident and at that speed, not a lot else that could happen. You could ask why Veelers went right to start with…

  • Andy Oram

    Veelers clearly looked at Cav and obviously drifted in an attempt to block him from the race line! No one wants to see a rider hit the floor like that, but if you tactically attempt to hamper another riders chance in a competitive sprint, there’s always going to be a coming together that can result in a heavy fall.

  • gg/gg

    I agree with Veelers; Cavendish made an aggresive move with an upper body movement to push Veelers off his line

  • roginoz

    Cavenge-ish clearly veered left into him…cant respect truth denials …got that from 8-9 year old kids some times …not an adult.

  • G Millar

    Veelers new what he was doing, on purpose, and Cavendish grimaced and shouldered him on the way past, on purpose. Yellow for Veelers, red for Cav. If anyone can see this any other way then I must be watching the wrong stage in the wrong year.

  • Tom

    The replay tells the truth, Cavendish lies (bad loser)! Kittel (Argos-Shimano) wins! I wish Tom Veelers fast recovery.