Injured Cavendish ruled out of Tour de France
YORK, England -- Mark Cavendish's Tour de France came to a brutal end after the British sprint specialist failed to recover from a horror crash at the end of the first stage and pulled out of the race on Sunday morning.
"It's devastating," Cavendish, who will have an MRI scan on a dislocated shoulder and torn (shoulder) ligaments, told reporters outside his Omega Pharma-Quick Step (OPQS) bus before the second stage, a 201-km ride to Sheffield.
Cavendish, aiming for a 26th Tour de France stage victory on Saturday, dislocated his right shoulder in the finale of the opening stage from Leeds to Harrogate, his mother's hometown.
The 29-year-old Cavendish had appeared too eager to succeed in the closing stages and, using his shoulders for extra leverage to prevent being squeezed for room, swayed towards Australian Simon Gerrans, bringing both of them down.
German Marcel Kittel narrowly avoided the carnage and sprinted clear of the pack to claim the overall leader's yellow jersey following his fifth stage win overall.
"Normally I bounce well but when I was on the floor I knew something was wrong. My shoulder was sticking out the way it shouldn't," Cavendish, who had won at least a stage in every Tour since 2008, said.
"I had some optimism that it would just be swelling but this morning was worse. I'm gutted."
The former world champion apologized to Gerrans late on Saturday, saying he had "tried to find a gap that wasn't really there."
OPQS team manager Patrick Lefevere, however, suggested otherwise.
"Gerrans came a little bit quicker but we was next to Mark. He was at the end of his sprint and tried to go in slipstream and he used his elbow to break down Mark and Mark used his body against him and the rest is what we saw," the Belgian said.
Lefevere added that Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi suffered an allergic reaction to a bee sting on Saturday, saying that he would race although he was not feeling well.
OPQS's strategy is now likely to focus on Poland's Michal Kwiatkowski, who can reasonably target a top 10 finish in Paris as well as vying for honours in the young rider classification.
The opening three stages of this year's race are being held in England.