Hitting the ground hard inside the final kilometre of Saturday’s opening stage of the Tour de France and then nursing an extremely painful shoulder injury afterwards, Mark Cavendish has avoided a fracture to the area but has suffered a dislocation to his AC joint.
The Omega Pharma Quick Step rider is unsure about whether or not he will be able to continue in the race and he and the team will make a decision in relation to that prior to Sunday’s second stage.
The Briton crashed within sight of the finish line in Harrogate, a town where he had spent time on holidays as a child and which had special significance for him. He had been fixated on trying to win the stage and take the first yellow jersey of his career, but lost his chance in the fall.
Replays of the accident suggested that Cavendish had become slightly hemmed in as the sprint opened up, panicked, and sought to shunt Orica GreenEdge rider Simon Gerrans to the left with a sudden lunge in that direction.
Gerrans was indeed pushed to one side but came up against Bryan Coquard (Europcar), who was also disputing the sprint. Both the Australian and Cavendish went down hard; reacting afterwards, Cavendish has now acknowledged that he was to blame.
“I’m gutted about the crash today,” he said in a statement. “It was my fault. I’ll personally apologise to Simon Gerrans as soon as I get the chance. In reality, I tried to find a gap that wasn’t really there.
“I wanted to win today, I felt really strong and in a great position to contest the sprint thanks to the unbelievable efforts of my team. Sorry to all the fans that came out to support – it was truly incredible.”
Gerrans has indicated that he has no fractures and will be able to start Sunday. He had hoped to win that stage and while he said that he is uncertain how he will feel after the fall, told CyclingTips that he still hoped to fight for the honours.