Mark Cavendish lamented a broken rear mech in the final eight kilometres of stage 11 that prevented him from being able to contest the finish of the race.
The 162.5-kilometre stage from Carcassone to Montpellier had been targeted as a potential fourth win for the Manxman at this year’s Tour, with a bunch sprint predicted. However, his bike collided with another rider in the closing kilometres which put him out of contention as the race reached its climax.
“Shit happens I guess, at least I didn’t get beaten that’s the positive to take out of it. I hit my rear mech on somebody’s wheel – I don’t know if it was my fault, don’t know if it was their fault, it’s irrelevant really,” he said outside the Dimension Data bus after the stage.
“My rear mech stopped working and I don’t know whether the electronic thing came out or the whether [it was] the spring or something, but it wouldn’t go lower than the 15 [sprocket] so you can’t even keep up at 70k an hour.
“With the bunch in pieces there’s no car behind to change my bike, so that’s it.”
Watch: Tour de France 2016 stage 11 highlights
As expected crosswinds split the peloton into pieces, before Peter Sagan attacked with his Tinkoff team-mate Maciej Bodnar with 10km to go. Chris Froome, in the yellow jersey, bridged across with his Sky team-mate Geraint Thomas joining him, and the quartet stayed clear to the line. Sagan took his second stage win at this year’s Tour with Froome finishing behind him.
“I said there would be crosswinds I just didn’t think it [the bunch] would really split up,” Cavendish said of the day’s race. “I thought we were in quite a big bunch, I didn’t realise it was splitting so much behind. At one point I thought I’ll have a breather, went a few lines back, and then I was already in the back.”
Stage 14 on Saturday to Villars-Les-Dombes Parc des Oiseaux is another flat day that is likely to be contested by the sprinters, before the race moves into the Alps in the third week.