One day after a high speed crashed caused by a clash between Mark Cavendish and Simon Gerrans, the Australian has confirmed that the British rider made an apology to him about the accident.
The duo hit the ground hard inside the final kilometre of Saturday’s opening stage of the Tour de France. Cavendish ended up worse off, separating his shoulder and being forced to quit the race, but Gerrans was also hurt. He suffered cuts and bruises and while he was able to start this morning’s stage, he believes he has lost the chance of taking the yellow jersey on the opening weekend of the Tour.
Gerrans spoke to a small group of reporters prior to the start of Sunday’s second stage and gave both his opinion of the crash and also explained what Mark Cavendish said to him.
“He just apologised for the crash, really. It is nice of him to do that. He admitted full fault for what happened in the final,” he said.
“He was obviously pretty desperate, being a British rider and having the first stages in the UK. I could see he was desperately trying to win and that is probably why he was pretty aggressive there in the final. But like I said, he apologised to me last night for his move in the final. I think everyone made their opinions quickly about how the crash happened and why.”
The crash between the two occurred when Cavendish tried to force his way out to the left, and deliberately veered into Gerrans to try to push him out of the way. Gerrans was shunted to the left but as the French sprinter Bryan Coquard was to his outside, he had nowhere to go and both he and Cavendish hit the deck.
He said that he was very relieved that his injuries were not severe. “With the fall at that sort of speed and the way I fell, I am really fortunate not to have broken anything. Even though I am sore today and I expect to be sore for the next couple of days, I am probably pretty lucky to come through without any broken bones.”
Gerrans had worked out a strategy to try to take the Maillot Jaune for the second successive year. Part one required him to place highly yesterday; part two was to win today’s lumpy stage to Sheffield.
He lost out on the first objective but could in theory still chase victory on the stage. That will however depend on him not being too hampered by the effects of the fall.
“I didn’t wake up so good this morning. I am a bit stiff at the moment,” he said several minutes before riding to sign on. “I am expecting to be pretty sore for the first part of the stage, particularly. It does take a heck a lot out of you having a heavy fall like that, but I hope I can loosen up as the stage goes on and be there in the final.
“It is a stage I have been targeting from a long way out. It is a far from ideal way to approach the stage after a heavy crash yesterday, but we will see what we can do today.”
As regards that goal of taking the Maillot Jaune, he accepts that it will be a hard task. “It is going to be very difficult from the position I am in now to take the yellow jersey today. I think that one of the key points in taking yellow would have been a really high finish yesterday.
“Obviously crashing in the final and finishing a lot of placings behind – even though I am on the same time – is going to make it very, very difficult today.”
Gerrans was very measured in his response yesterday when asked about the cause of the crash. He appeared reluctant to blame Cavendish, even though many felt that the Briton had been at fault. The Australian simply said that he would have to look at the video replays before coming to any conclusions.
Despite now accepting that Cavendish was the cause of it, he isn’t harbouring any ill feelings.
“It is a shame for him,” he said about his withdrawal. “Like I said, he is a British rider with the race here in the UK. So I am sure he had pretty big ambitions for these first few stages.
“It is a shame for him not to be able to start today.”