Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) complimented the Tour de France race jury for its courage in disqualifying the world champion, Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), from the race for irregular sprinting in stage four.
Cavendish appeared at the team bus at the stage five start in Vittel, where on Tuesday he fell when Sagan edged left in the final 150 metres.
He was not racing, but there to say goodbye to his team-mates before leaving for home.
“I think in my career there is always going to be an opinion on me – I have a lot of good fans but I have a lot of people who don’t like me,” Cavendish said.
“There’s always going to be opinion on Peter, he’s a great person for the sport. I think what you have to do here is take away the riders involved, take away the jerseys involved and look at what happened. And that’s why we have a jury to make decisions.
“If I’m honest it takes a lot of courage, a lot of balls to eliminate the world champion from the Tour de France, and I commend the jury on taking a decision that wasn’t based on influences from social media or outside.”
The race jury president, Philippe Marien, spoke on the decision to eliminate Sagan, winner of the points competition the last five years.
“Before the Tour de France, we warned the sprinters that we would look very close at every sprint,” said Marien. “And that is what we did today.
“It’s not about Sagan or Cavendish, it could be be Joe Blow. It doesn’t mater, we just take our action.”
“I’ve been relegated also,” Cavendish said. “The commissaires here, the jury are really among the most experienced jury that I’ve ever witnessed in a Tour de France in cycling.
“I know them all and they’re fair. Philippe Marien, he’s relegated me in the past, whether I think I’m right or wrong the rules were there and if I break the rules I get relegated. But I know definitely when those incidents are made you can’t doubt them.”
Cavendish stood in the hot sun next to his bus. A black sling held his right arm in place.
Near midnight, the team announced he had fractured his shoulder blade. It is a setback for Cavendish, who raced to get into condition to simply start the Tour after suffering glandular fever.
“The last weeks trying to get to the Tour de France was difficult, I thought after the year I had last year, I’d be able to relax coming into this.
“Yeah that was hard even trying to get here. So to get here and represent Dimension Data, Deloitte, Qhubeka, that’s a win in itself,” explained Cavendish.
“I’ll just go and try and recover from my shoulder, it’s better than being ill. At least I can ride on the home trainer and trying to get back to support my team-mates.”
Overnight, some said that Sagan should not have been disqualified for the crash. Cavendish spoke to Sagan about it and about that elbow what came out when the gap closed.
“Peter called me. We have a good relationship, I think we’re more colleagues, we are friends and we’re in a situation that we understand the burdens that come with the world champions jersey both with the kind of fame you get but also the example you have to set.
“We spoke fine; I don’t have any hard feelings,” Cavendish continued.
“He said [the elbow] was keeping himself balanced, so it’s nice to know. He said he didn’t know it was me coming up, which I know nothing is malicious that’s the thing. I knew straight away which is why I said I was confused yesterday.”