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July 6, 2014 — Mark Cavendish admitted he was devastated after being forced to pull out of the Tour de France on Sunday with a dislocated collarbone as the peloton’s punchers aim for a stage win.
AFP/Kåre Dehlie Thorstad
The 29-year-old crashed on Saturday’s opening stage but had been hoping to make the start of Sunday’s 201km second stage from York to Sheffield, only for pain to get the better of him.
“When I was on the floor yesterday I knew something was wrong. It’s the first time in my career I knew something was wrong,” he said Sunday in front of his team bus at the second stage’s start in York.
“I saw there was something wrong with my shoulder, it was sticking out a bit so we went to get it checked out. I was in a lot of pain, I can’t move my shoulder.
“I held a bit of optimism that maybe it was just a bit of swelling and would go down this morning, but it’s actually worse this morning. I’m gutted, I’m major disappointed but I guess it could be worse.”
Cavendish collided with Australian champion Simon Gerrans in a high octane finish to the 190.5km opening stage from Leeds to Harrogate.
Gerrans, 34, would have been one of the favourites for Sunday’s second stage which has been described as a mini Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the one-day Ardennes Classic that Gerrans won in April.
The stage began with an early seven-man breakaway as soon as they left York.
Cavendish said he hoped his rival, who lost a bit of skin and suffered bruises from his fall, would recover and do well during the rest of the race.
“I hope he’s OK, today’s a good stage for him and I really wish him the best for the rest of the tour,” said Cavendish, a winner of 25 Tour stages.
Gerrans admitted Saturday’s crash would likely prevent him from matching his feat from last year’s Grand Boucle where he wore the yellow jersey for two stages.
“I’m a little sore this morning. I think I actually got off fairly lightly yesterday given how hard I fell but I didn’t wake up so good this morning,” Gerrans said.
“I’m a bit stiff at the moment but hopefully I’ll loosen up as the stage goes on.
“From the position I’m in today, it’s going to be really hard for me to take the yellow jersey.
“One of the key points for taking yellow would have been a really high finish yesterday and obviously crashing in the final and finishing a lot of placings behind, even though I’m on the same time, it’s going to make it very, very difficult today.
“Its obviously a really nice parcours for me today and it’s a stage I’ve been targeting from a long way out, so it’s a far from ideal way to approach this stage off a heavy crash yesterday.”
While the opening stage was one for the sprinters, with German bullet Marcel Kittel winning and taking the leader’s yellow jersey, Sunday’s run should suit either a breakaway or one of the peloton’s punchers and classics specialists.
Other than Gerrans, Spaniard Alejandro Valverde, the winner of another of the Ardennes Classics in April, the Fleche-Wallonne, fancies his chances.
“The profile is well suited to me,” he said.”
More than a million people are thought to have lined the route on Saturday’s opening stage with as many again expected for Sunday’s run.
While many riders spoke of the amazing atmosphere and huge crowds on the Yorkshire roads, some also complained that spectators were standing in the road and in their way, putting the safety of riders and fans alike at risk.
Reigning champion and Sky team leader Chris Froome has pleaded with fans to be more considerate.
“The crowds were well behaved but if anything I’d just ask if the crowds could give us a bit of space,” he said.
The lumpy nature of the Sunday’s course means the overall contenders might aim to gain some time on their rivals.
Twice former winner Alberto Contador said that means they will have to be on high alert.
“I hope to be paying good attention and to see how the day pans out in case there is movement between the favourites at the end,” he said.