Mark Cavendish said he was unaware of any protestations from Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quick Step) on the Tour de France stage 14 sprint finish, saying he thought the German was simply congratulating him when he hit him on the back.
The Dimension Data man took his fourth win of the 2016 Tour, taking his career total stage wins up to 30, but there were visible frustrations from Kittel before the line in Villars-Les-Dombes after the pair came together.
The Etixx rider ended up taking fifth place on the 208.5km stage, with Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) all taking the placings ahead of him, with Kittel unable to add to his only win on stage four to Limoges.
From video footage, Kittel appeared to be forced to slow as the Manxman was in front of him, but Cavendish says that it was more Kittel’s doing if anything.
“I didn’t see it [Kittel’s gesture] I was in front of him!” Cavendish said.
“The first I knew about it was when I was waiting to do my flash interview and they were just taking a while… I saw it I think there is a coming together.
“I think if you look it’s him that comes off the barriers more, it’s him more than anything.
“We didn’t have time to talk [about it]. He hit me on the back, but I thought he was just saying well done!”
The race commissaires did analyse the pictures immediately after the race, but the result stood and gave Dimension Data their fifth win in a sensational Tour for the South African team.
Now, despite it looking like a tough finish for the sprinters, Cavendish is aiming to take a sixth victory to Berne on Monday’s stage 16, Nelson Mandela Day, which features a challenging rise up to the finish straight.
Watch: Highlights of stage 14 at the 2016 Tour de France
Not only that, the 31-year-old is still determined to make it to Paris despite the Olympics being on the horizon in August, but admits that he won’t push himself should four treacherous days in the Alps start to effect his fitness.
“There are two more sprint opportunities I think, [including] Monday in Berne,” he said.
“It’s not an easy sprint but it’s a sprint and it’s on Nelson Mandela day so it’s a big for the team. We’ve got a rest day and we’ve got four days before Paris, so I may as well try [to get there].
“I said that I’m not going to try and put myself over the edge or if I’m on my hands knees I have stop, I can’t kill myself before the Olympics. But I feel in good shape, there’s good morale so I’ll carry on.”