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July 05, 2014 — British sprint ace Mark Cavendish suffered a dislocated collarbone after crashing during the opening stage of the Tour de France on Saturday.
UPDATE 3:15 ET: “I’m gutted about the crash today,” Cavendish said in a statement posted on his team’s website. “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.”
Cavendish, 29, crashed hard in the finishing sprint in Harrogate, where his mother was born, at the end of the 190km opening stage from Leeds, which was won by German Marcel Kittel. He was seen holding his collarbone on the tarmac, visibly in pain, before cradling his arm in his lap and grimacing as he rode to the finish line one-handed.
He was taken to hospital by ambulance, after which Tour organisers released a brief medical bulletin stating he had suffered a “trauma” to his “right shoulder” before stipulating that “X-rays and an ultrasound” had shown he had an “acromioclavicular separation.”
His OPQS team manager Patrick Lefevere had earlier said he would carry on racing as long as there was no break.
“Mark had lived this sprint in his mind at least 100 times before. He was so focused, he wanted to win so badly,” said Lefevere. “He told me that Simon Gerrans slowed down and he really wanted to get out and he pushed and Gerrans pushed back. And that’s how he crashed.
“It was so important for him. He’s been taken to hospital for checks and we just hope nothing’s broken. If nothing’s broken, then of course Mark will continue.”
In the final sprint, Cavendish could be seen leaning into Gerrans as he seemed to be sandwiched between two riders and was trying to find space. As he went down, Gerrans crashed too and the pair took down two or three other riders. Gerrans, whose jersey was ripped to shreds, said he would need to see the incident again.
“I’m not exactly sure what happened just yet, I’ll obviously be watching the replay when I get back to the hotel. I think it will be replayed over a few times,” said the Australian.
“I think it’s pretty unfortunate to get tangled up in a crash that close to the finish. I wont be going off to hospital, I’m going to be a little bit stiff and sore tomorrow and I’ve lost a little bit of skin but I think I’m all still in one piece.”
Although Lefevere suggested that Cavendish felt Gerrans was partly to blame for the crash, Belgian rider Sep Vanmarcke laid responsibility squarely at Cavendish’s door. He wrote on Twitter: “This could have been my best sprint ever. Was in Kittel’s wheel last km, but because of that crazy move of Cav I couldn’t sprint! #TourdeSep.”