Who was to blame for the heavy crash that wiped out Mark Cavendish in the final hundred metres of the final Tour of Qatar stage? The Team Sky man appeared to point the finger at Roger Kluge (Project 1t4i).
Launching their sprints side-by-side, Cavendish and Kluge went for the same gap. Cavendish bounced off the German, but crashed when he crossed the back wheel of Tyler Farrar in front.
The pair exchanged words by the Team Sky car after the world champion crossed the finish line.
“Did you do that?” an angry Cavendish asked Kluge. Seven inches taller but suddenly seeming to shrink, the German former track star said no.
Their body language softened as Kluge said something and Cavendish replied “I’m not kicking off, am I?” and sat in the Sky team car.
CW spoke to Kluge for his side of the story. “I don’t know really [what happened], I was lucky I was in the right side of the space and that I dodged it,” he said.
“I felt something on my left hand, I don’t know if it was a knee or a handlebar. I was lucky that I didn’t go down,” he said.
“It was just from touching,” Kluge said, pointing on at a small cut on his hand. “A second later, they crashed, but okay, I came through and sprinted to the line.”
Olympic points race silver medallist Kluge, who finished fourth, played down Cavendish’s anger. “No, no. It’s just aggression, it’s normal after the race. He [Cavendish] said sorry to me, but there was no discussion. If we had a stage tomorrow, we would talk about it.”
“It’s a pity to finish the race like this,” said Team Sky directeur sportif Steven De Jongh. “Luckily, we have two wins, we’ve got nothing broken and we can move on to Oman,” he said.
Tom Boonen kept safe to win the race overall; Sky men Juan Antonio Flecha and Cavendish finished third and sixth overall respectively.
Cav rides back to hotel
Cavendish had abrasions to his neck, elbow and back. After cooling off in the car,
a ripple of applause from the gathered fans went up as the world champion emerged and signed
autographs for some children.
He rode back to hotel with several Sky teammates. Seemingly no permanent damage done – though Roger Kluge may think twice about baulking the feisty Manxman in a bunch sprint again.
Demare takes first victory as Cavendish goes down
Tour of Qatar 2012: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index