Dimension Data’s Mark Cavendish commended the race jury decision to disqualify Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) from the Tour de France, but he told a press scrum that he harbours no hard feelings, according to Het Nieuwsblad.
Cavendish has withdrawn from the race with a broken scapula in the aftermath of a crash on Tuesday’s stage 4 that saw the two riders collide and Cavendish hit the deck. After initially deciding to relegate Sagan in the sprint and dock him points in the green jersey battle for the role the world champion played in the collision, the Tour’s race jury changed course and disqualified Sagan from the Tour de France outright.
Cavendish addressed the decision Wednesday. “If I’m honest it takes a lot of courage, a lot of balls to eliminate the world champion from the Tour de France, and I commend the jury on taking a decision that wasn’t based on influences from social media or outside,” he said.
“Philippe Marien, he’s relegated me in the past, whether I think I’m right or wrong, the rules were there and if I break the rules I get relegated. But I know definitely when those incidents are made you can’t doubt them.”
He also rejected suggestions that he’d tried to make his way through too small of a gap on the side of the road.
“I’m an experienced sprinter. I think if you look back at video of my career, you won’t see me squeezing through the barriers since maybe 2008,” he said. “I have children at home. I know what kinds of gaps I can fit into. It’s my trade to be a sprinter. It’s why I’ve won 30 stages of the Tour de France.”
Cavendish stressed, however, that has no ill will toward Sagan, emphasising that the two are friends and that he accepted Sagan’s explanation that his elbow flick was an attempt to keep his balance and nothing malicious.
“Trying to create a polemic between myself a Peter, it’s not a fair thing to do. We’re friends. Peter’s a world champion. I’ve won 30 stages of this race. To create a polemic, it’s not in the interest of the sport,” Cavendish said. “We’ve spoken. We’re fine. He came and apologised after the race. I’ve always been good with Peter, I always will.”