Mark Cavendish has had a nightmare 2017.
The 30-time stage winner of the Tour de France had been diagnosed with the Epstein-Barr virus, which is the virus that causes mononucleosis, and Cavendish has made no bones about how this has caused him to not be as powerful on the bike this year.
Because of that, Cavendish became a long shot to win a sprint stage of the Tour de France and most likely, the crash he suffered today at the end of Stage 4 will eliminate him from the rest of the Tour without a single win.
As the sprinters were heading toward the finish line of Stage 4 in Vittel, Cavendish got forced into the security barrier at over 50 mph just meters from the finish line. In the ensuing crash, Cavendish then got run over in the leg and then the head by John Degenkolb, who flew head first over his handlebars at full speed. This took place after a crash about a kilometer behind that involved the Yellow Jersey Geraint Thomas, who was able to finish without injury.
— NBCSN (@NBCSN) July 4, 2017
The Cavendish crash looks especially bad. The replays showed the true extent and a bit of dirty play by Peter Sagan throwing an elbow to Cavendish as they charged to the finish line.
You can definitely see Sagan whip his elbow out. It also looks way worse than it probably was when you slow down and micro analyze an action that lasts a couple of seconds. Race organizers already disqualified Sagan from the stage and his points for finishing 2nd were taken away. Sagan keeps his time but according to NBCSN play-by-play commentator Phil Ligget, Cavendish’s team Team Dimension Data, was going to push to get the World Champion disqualified from the entire race due to violent conduct. Sagan doesn’t have a reputation of being a dirty racer and even Cavendish said they get along well but it’s easy to see Team Dimension Data being extremely upset.
Sagan claimed he apologized and checked up on Cavendish but Cavendish said he wanted to talk and sort things out with Sagan about the crash and the elbow. As far as injuries are concerned, Cavendish said he definitely needs stitches on one of his fingers and is going to the hospital. Cavendish eventually finished the stage but was holding his right shoulder in a way that most likely shows a broken collarbone or shoulder. He met the media with his arm in a sling and pics showed him marked up after grinding on the asphalt.
Mark Cavendish up and about but bearing wounds of terrifying crash into barriers at full gas pic.twitter.com/s4fcentlVT
— Matt Dickinson (@DickinsonTimes) July 4, 2017
— Tomáš Kohout (@tkohout) July 4, 2017
Frenchman Arnaud Démare won his first Tour de France stage of his career and became the first Frenchman to win a Tour de France sprint stage since 2006. Démare also took the Green Jersey as leader of the points classification. The “King of the Mountains” standings has been dominated by Americans so far. Nate Brown took the Polka Dot Jersey from fellow American teammate Taylor Phinney yesterday and successfully defended his jersey today on July 4, becoming the first American to successfully defend the Polka Dot Jersey in the Tour de France. This is very likely going to be Brown’s and Phinney’s last days at getting a sniff at that jersey because the Tour de France goes into the Vosges Mountains.