'It was an honorable thing': Mark Cavendish accepts Peter Sagan's apology in Tour de France crash


Injured rider Mark Cavendish praised Tour de France organizers Wednesday for disqualifying world champion Peter Sagan but said he has no ill will toward the man whose elbow prematurely ended Cavendish’s participation in the 2017 event.

“It takes a lot of courage to eliminate the world champion from the Tour de France,” Cavendish said before Stage 5 left from Vittel, in the northeastern part of the country.

The previous day’s stage ended with a wild sprint. About 50 yards from the finish, Cavendish tried to get between Sagan and the barriers to the riders’ right. Instead, the British rider ran into his Slovakian competitor’s elbow then slammed into the barriers in a crash that also took down two other riders.

Cavendish, winner of 30 Tour stages during his career, later withdrew from the event after being diagnosed with a broken right shoulder blade. Sagan was disqualified from the rest of the competition for endangering other riders. His team protested the move, but race organizers would not allow an appeal.

“I can just accept the decision of the jury, but for sure I do not agree with them because I think I didn’t do something wrong in the sprint,” Sagan told reporters outside his team’s hotel Wednesday morning before leaving to return home.

“It is very bad that Mark fell down, and it is important he can recover well. I am sorry for that.”

Cavendish said Sagan apologized to him following Tuesday’s race — explaining that he extended his elbow because he was trying to keep from falling — and called him again that night to see how he was doing.

“He said it was keeping himself balanced, so it was nice to know,” Cavendish said. “He said he didn’t know it was me coming up.”

Cavendish added: “It was an honorable thing to see Peter there at the bus, already come to apologize. It shows our relationship, shows the man he is and I really appreciate that more than anything.”

charles.schilken@latimes.com

Twitter: @chewkiii



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