<
>

Disqualified Peter Sagan: I did nothing wrong in Tour crash

Peter Sagan of Slovakia riding for Bora-Hansgrohe reacts after winning stage three of the 2017 Le Tour de France. Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Peter Sagan left the Tour de France on Wednesday morning still disagreeing with the decision to disqualify him for his role in the crash that ended Mark Cavendish's race.

Sagan had tussled with Cavendish in stage four's sprint finish in Vittel, with the Manxman suffering a broken shoulder blade after he fell into the barriers 120 metres from the line.

"I can accept the decision but for sure I do not agree with them, because I think I have done nothing wrong," Sagan said in a statement delivered outside the Bora-Hansgrohe team hotel.

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

"As you saw it was a crazy sprint, it was not the first one like that or the last one. I wish that Mark recovers well."

The race jury had initially docked Sagan 30 seconds for his role in the crash but after reviewing the footage upgraded his punishment and sent him home.

Sagan had crossed the line in Vittel second behind stage winner Arnaud Demare of the FDJ team.

The disqualification ended Sagan's bid to win the points leaders' green jersey for a record-equalling sixth straight year in the Tour.

Cavendish had spent three months battling back from the Epstein-Barr virus in order to make the start line of the Tour in Dusseldorf, and his early exit will come as a bitter blow.

"I'm obviously massively disappointed to get this news about the fracture," Cavendish said after the news was confirmed late on Tuesday.

"The team was incredible today. They executed to perfection what we wanted to do this morning. I feel I was in a good position to win and to lose that and even having to leave the Tour, a race I have built my whole career around, is really sad."

Sagan's Bora-Hansgrohe team had announced late on Tuesday they had officially protested against Sagan's expulsion from the race. But by Wednesday morning the Slovakian's belongings were being removed from the team hotel and his exit was confirmed.

On Thursday, the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) rejected the appeal, saying in a statement that Sagan "remains disqualified from the 2017 Tour de France."

Cavendish's injuries mean the Team Dimension Data man will not have the chance to add to his 30 career Tour stage wins for another year.

The 32-year-old is four shy of Eddy Merckx's all-time record of 34.

The collision between Sagan and Cavendish happened moments after another crash had sent Team Sky's Geraint Thomas to the deck in the race leaders' yellow jersey. Thomas was fine to continue, losing no time as the incidents occurred inside the final three kilometres, while Chris Froome managed to skirt around it.

"I'm alright," Thomas said. "It was just a crash in front of me and I had nowhere to go.

"Luckily I took off most of the speed. I think Froomey managed to get round it and he's okay."

Thomas continues to lead from Froome by 12 seconds, with Michael Matthews of Team Sunweb on the same time in third place overall going into Wednesday's stage to La Planche des Belles Filles, where the fight for yellow is expected to ignite.