Vittel - World
champion Peter Sagan was sensationally kicked off the Tour de France
for elbowing Mark Cavendish in a hectic sprint finish to Tuesday's
WATCH: Mark Cavendish's horrific Stage 4 crash
British sprint great Cavendish was taken to hospital by ambulance
with shoulder and finger injuries after crashing to the ground when
Sagan shoved him into the metal safety barriers 100 metres from the
finish of the 207.5km stage from Mondorf-les-Bains to Vittel.
"We've decided to disqualify Peter Sagan from the Tour de France 2017
as he endangered some of his colleagues seriously in the final metres
of the sprint which happened in Vittel," said the president of the race
commission, Philippe Marien.
"We will apply article 12.104 of the rules of the UCI... in which
case commissaires (the race jury) can decide to enforce a judgement to
disqualify a rider."
Cavendish had earlier demanded an explanation from Sagan for the
elbow that ended the Briton's Tour - he previously crashed out of
the 2014 Tour with a broken collarbone.
Cavendish, 31, was following the wheel of eventual stage winner
Arnaud Demare of France when Sagan jutted out an elbow, knocking the
Briton into the barriers where he came crashing down to the ground.
The 30-time Tour stage winner was treated by medical staff before crossing the finish line with a bloodied and bandaged hand.
When he left for hospital, he was also wearing a sling.
Although Sagan had come to speak
to him at his bus after the stage, Cavendish said he still wanted an
explanation about the elbow.
"I was massively grateful that Peter came directly after the finish to see me - I have a good relationship with Peter.
"Even with the movement to the right, obviously I wouldn't be happy
but that's racing. But I was a little bit confused with the elbow,
that's something I'd like to speak to him about."
Sagan's bodyguard told journalists that the world champion had been destabilised in the sprint finish by another rider.
"Someone touched his back wheel. He was close to losing his balance
so he put out his arm to stop himself from falling down," the bodyguard
Cavendish's was the second of two crashes in the final kilometre as riders jostled for position to contest the sprint finish.
Race leader Geraint Thomas was taken down in the first crash, along with around a dozen riders, but he emerged unhurt.
"The crash happened right in front of me, I had nowhere to go really," said Thomas.
It was the second time in three stages that Thomas had been caught up in a crash.
"It's ok, both times I managed to take off quite a bit of speed," he added.
"I'm used to crashing, so it's fine, I'm all ok."
In all the furore of another bunch pile-up, French champion Demare's
achievement of becoming the first Frenchman to win a Tour stage in a
sprint finish since 2006 was almost lost.
"It's amazing, beating all the best sprinters like that at the Tour
de France is something I'd hoped for, for a long time," said Demare.
His win allowed him to claim the sprinters' green jersey from German
Marcel Kittel, winner of Sunday's second stage but who was held up by
the first crash and unable to contest the sprint.
With Slovak Sagan disqualified, Norway's Alexander Kristoff came second and Greipel third.
Reigning champion Chris Froome retained second place, 12 seconds
behind his Sky team-mate Thomas, with Australian Michael Matthews third
on the same time as Froome.