Mark Cavendish and Bernie Eisel (Sky) are expected to start tomorrow’s stage five of the Tour de France despite both crashing with 2.6km to race of today’s sprint finish into Rouen.
The World Champion and his team-mate came down as a cross-wind tore across the bunch in the closing kilometres of stage four, which also brought down Mark Renshaw (Rabobank) and Robbie Hunter (Garmin-Sharp).
Both Sky men were able to remount and made it to the finish before receiving immediate medical treatment for cuts and bruises at the team bus.
“I’ve spoken to the doctor and both guys have got superficial injuries except for Bernie who has quite a deep laceration above his eye and has had some stitches,” explained Sky manager Dave Brailsford.
“The doc reckons that they will both be fine to start tomorrow. There are no broken bones, that’s the key thing. It’s just that cut above Bernie’s eye and he’s having that looked at now.”
Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) won the final sprint from a much reduced peloton, ahead of Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) and Tom Veelers (Argos-Shimano).
However Sky’s directeur sportif, Sean Yates, believes Cavendish, who led the bunch through the intermediate sprint of the day, would have been able to challenge the German once again.
“It’s a chance missed,” said Yates. “He felt pretty good today and we saw in the intermediate sprint the turn of speed he showed.
“Obviously he’s not too happy. That’s definitely a sprint he would have been up there in.”
Cavendish’s girlfriend Peta Todd was also unhappy with the day’s events, posting on her Twitter: “And that is what happens when you take a a man that is so harshly marked to the tour without protection. This is peoples lives. If you haven’t got the intention of making sure you have the team to look after the World Champ. Don’t just wing it. He is just a man.”
Tomorrow’s 196.5km stage from Rouen to St. Quentin is the first of this year’s Tour to feature no categorised climbs and will almost certainly be another chance for Cavendish and the sprinters to claim a coveted stage win once again.