Veelers and Cavendish react to stage ten finishing straight crash
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Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Veelers and Cavendish react to stage ten finishing straight crash

by Ben Atkins at 5:03 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Injury
 
Argos-Shimano rider points finger at Manx Missile; “I hope he’s okay anyway,” says British champion

mark cavendishUnsurprisingly, the two riders involved in the incident that saw Tom Veelers (Argos-Shimano) hit the tarmac in the finishing straight of the tenth stage of the Tour de France in Saint-Malo saw what happened a little differently. Veelers, who had been escorting eventual stage winner Marcel Kittel onto the wheel of German champion André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) came into contact with Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) as the British champion tried to get past.

Thankfully, no other riders came down in the incident, with Cavendish continuing to take third place.

“Mark Cavendish came on me, steering in front of me, and sort of pushed me off my bike,” Veelers told the TV cameras immediately afterwards. “[I feel] shit right now, but it is what it is, it happened, I can’t turn it around any more.”

Whether or not Cavendish should have been relegated for the incident, Veelers refused to be drawn when questioned on the subject.

“I’ll leave that up to the jury,” he said. “They have to decide what they do. I’m not the person who can decide, or has to decide it.

“I’ll leave that all up to the jury,” he repeated.

Having just crossed the line, Veelers was not sure of the extent of his injuries but, when asked, he assumed that he would be okay to start the 33km time trial between Avranches and Mont-Saint-Michel tomorrow.

“I hope to start tomorrow, of course, again, and for now I can say I will. I lost a lot of skin, and I have some bruises, and furthermore, it is what it is,” he said.

“It was Mark Cavendish’s fault, yeah,” he opined. “I think that was pretty clear from the video as well.”

Cavendish was also questioned by the TV cameras and, unsurprisingly, saw the incident differently. The British champion found himself without teammates as he entered the final few hundred metres, and so was following those of Lotto-Belisol and Argos-Shimano.

“We ran out of guys and Gert [Steegmans] went early,” Cavendish explained. “It would have been too far for me if I’d have gone with him so I decided to get on another train, and - yeah - just got beat.”

When specifically questioned about Veelers’ crash, Cavendish saw it as little more than a racing incident, partly caused by the slightly curving finishing straight.

“I touched with him, but the road was bearing left,” he said. “I know you’re trying to get the ‘Mark Cavendish, he’s a really bad sprinter…’

"The road was bearing left…” he repeated. “150 metres to go the road bears left. Either I follow the road or I hit the barriers, so I think if everyone’s trying to get ‘Mark Cavendish the dangerous sprinter,’ I think you’re in the wrong.

“I know there’s going to be internet forums and all that going crazy about it. But the road bears left; I’m going to follow the road, I’m not going to hit the barriers.”

Knowing that many would have already made up their minds about the incident, Cavendish once again emphasised that he saw it as a case of two riders veering into one another, rather than one taking the other out.

“The commissaires have already [made up their minds], I think,” he said. “At the end of the day, you can see he moves a little bit right and I move a little bit left. It’s not like I too his wheel. It was the arms that touch anyway, it’s not like, it’s not like I took his wheel out.

“If I’d have won they’d have relegated me,” he added.

“I hope he’s okay, anyway.”

Luckily for Cavendish the race jury took the decision not to relegate him from his third place and, while he missed the opportunity to take his second stage of the Tour, still took 30 points in the green jersey classification and kept his hopes of taking the competition alive.

The Manxman still sits third overall in the classification, however, on 166 points, fully 103 points behind leader Peter Sagan (Cannondale), with Greipel in second place on 186.

For Cavendish to take the jersey that he won in 2011 though, he will surely need to take more victories - as well as hoping that Sagan misses out - and the pressure to do so must be mounting.

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