Cavendish could be out of Tour

The Bolton News: Mark Cavendish could be forced out of the Tour de France Mark Cavendish could be forced out of the Tour de France

Mark Cavendish's Tour de France is in the balance after the dramatic crash which ended the Manxman's dreams of wearing the yellow jersey in his mother's home town of Harrogate.

Cavendish separated the acromioclavicular (AC) joint between his right shoulder and collarbone when he tumbled to the tarmac after colliding with Orica GreenEdge rival Simon Gerrans a little over 200 metres from the line.

The 29-year-old had an MRI scan on the injury on Saturday night and planned to make a decision on Sunday morning as to whether to continue in the Tour with his Omega Pharma-QuickStep team.

"I'm gutted about the crash today," Cavendish said. "It was my fault. I'll personally apologise to Simon Gerrans as soon as I get the chance. In reality, I tried to find a gap that wasn't really there.

"I wanted to win today, I felt really strong and was in a great position to contest the sprint thanks to the unbelievable efforts of my team. Sorry to all the fans that came out to support - it was truly incredible."

After Cavendish tumbled to the tarmac, Marcel Kittel raced away to win the opening stage of the Tour for a second year running.

Cavendish, who had been bidding for his 26th Tour de France stage win, had ridden gingerly back to the team bus holding his side before being taken away in an ambulance with his wife Peta Todd and two-year-old daughter Delilah following in a team car.

For Cavendish, it was sad repeat of last year's opening stage - when Kittel beat a depleted field after Cavendish and others had been caught in a crash on the run into Bastia.

Saturday's incident was even more devastating, coming as it did on such familiar roads - a factor Lefevere fears may even have contributed.

"He was very impatient," he said. "He wanted to win. He has already done this sprint 100 times in his head before.

"It's his home tour. He was very focused. Maybe too much. He was so sure to win that he probably made a mistake.

"Gerrans came next to him, slowed down, he wanted to get out, and (Mark) pushed him with his shoulder. Gerrans pushed back and, boom, they crashed."

A victory for Cavendish would have completed a dream day for British cycling fans, with Yorkshire laying on one of the more spectacular Grand Departs of recent years.

More than a million fans had turned out to line the route of the 190.5km stage, which began with a long preamble from Leeds to Harewood House before continuing through the Yorkshire Dales and over the Buttertubs climb into Harrogate.

"It's an unfortunate way to end what could've been a dream scenario," said Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford - Cavendish's former boss.

"He's a great champion. He's done an awful lot for his country and we shouldn't forget that."

Cavendish's team had been well positioned entering the final kilometre before Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) launched a surprise attack.

The sprinters' teams regrouped, though, before Cavendish's crash created chaos.

Kittel powered away to the line ahead of Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Sharp), adding to his four stage wins from the 2013 Tour.

After a neutralised ride-out from Leeds to Harewood House, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry gave the Tour a royal send-off.

The stage was listed as flat, but it was undulating all day in the rolling Yorkshire countryside.

German Jens Voigt (Trek Factory Racing), the oldest man in the peloton at 42 and in his 17th Tour, was in the day's three-man breakaway and distanced Frenchmen Benoit Jarrier (Bretagne-Seche Environnement) and Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) on the second categorised climb, the Cote de Buttertubs.

Voigt held a three-minute advantage with 70km of racing remaining and secured the polka-dot King of the Mountains jersey at the final climb of Cote de Grinton Moor before being caught by the peloton with 60km to go.

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