Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) crashed and lost a sprint to André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) in the Tour de France’s stage to Montpellier today.
“I didn’t necessarily lose the sprint because of the crash,” Cavendish told journalists crowded at Omega Pharma’s bus door.
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“I think there’s a lot of factors, for sure crashing didn’t help. It took a lot of energy to get back from behind; for sure André [Greipel] was really strong.”
Omega Pharma led, but faded in the last kilometres when teams Argos-Shimano and Lotto came to the front.
Greipel won the sprint ahead of Peter Sagan (Cannondale), Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) and Cavendish.
“I’m disappointed,” added Cavendish. “I won the sprint yesterday, my morale still good. We rode strong all day in difficult conditions so it’s okay, we’ve got another two weeks left.”
Cavendish fell in a roundabout with 32 kilometres remaining into the 176.5-kilometre stage and had to chase back on to even have a chance in the sprint.
He blamed himself for the crash.
“I was going around a roundabout about and it was very tight, my front wheel went.”
Live TV failed to catch the image. Sports director, Brian Holm said that they heard about it on the radio.
“We went around the roundabout and found Cavendish on the left side of the road,” explained Holm. “He needed to change his bike.”
Cavendish, with a ripped British champion’s jersey, re-entered the speeding peloton with 23 kilometres to race. Omega Pharma set up its train as it had yesterday to produce the win. Today, however, it failed in the final kilometres.
“We have to admit that Lotto kicked us in the balls and we got our lesson. That was good, what they did was perfect. Omega ran out of gasoline,” Holm added.
“Cavendish tried to stay and go from fourth wheel, but you have to start from the inside with a perfectly good lead-out. Greipel had perfectly good legs and Lotto did everything right. We just have to say congratulations.”
Cavendish came to the bus and refused to speak for some time.
“I just heard him yelling in the bus, no one can understand him when he’s yelling,” Holm said. “I won’t speak to him, I’ll stay away. I’ll talk to him during massage and we always end up laughing at it. It’s all right to be angry.”
Other buses tried to pass, forcing around 50 journalists to move away. Only after around 20 to 30 minutes did he appear on the doorstep, talking in a low voice, but keeping his cool.
Cavendish said of his anger, “We don’t really do a song and dance when we don’t win.”