Stage 1 of the 2014 Tour de France had what looked like a nail-biter of a finish, that ended up being a huge cringe.
In the closing meters of the stage coming into Harrogate, world sprinting champion and perpetual jerk Mark Cavendish looked to be sprinting to a stage win in front of a home crowd. Just when it looked as if he’d explode to the finish, he and Australian Simon Gerrans tumbled in a horrific crash.
Initially, it looked as if two riders locked handlebars in the heat of a sprint, and these things happen. After further review, it became obvious that Cavendish had put a solid headbutt into the shoulder of Gerrans. This backfired as Gerrans was not to fold and Cavendish tumbled — taking the Aussie with him.
Finishing the stage, Cavendish nursed his arm, wincing in pain as it was obvious he was seriously hurt. This was confirmed Sunday morning as Cavendish was officially out of the Tour with a ruptured ligament. In his own words, he’d be “out for a few weeks.”
Before anything else, it needs clarifying that nobody “deserves” to be injured. Though he is an absolute tool, it is horrible to see a world-class rider like Cavendish get injured.
However, it’s amazing this didn’t happen sooner.
Cavendish has a history of intentionally wrecking riders in sprints with shoulders and head butts. When it’s not him, he has his lead-out men do his dirty work for him. He is a dirty rider who will take a lead at any and all costs — including compromising the safety of those around him.
Nobody can deny Cavendish put his head into Gerrans intentionally, as he has countless riders before. Cavendish has been getting away with this nonsense his entire career and it has finally caught up with him. Again, anyone who celebrates a rider being injured is a horrible person. The elephant in the room, however, is how nobody saw this coming and how it hasn’t happened sooner.
Had a ruptured ligament not put him out of the race, the officials should have. Cavendish has been getting away with this for far too long and it was a matter of time before someone was seriously hurt. It is a shame, but it was a shame that was far overdue.
In the future, Cavendish needs to think long and hard about how he conducts himself in a sprint from this point forward. Should his idiotic behavior continue in future races, it’s a matter of time before he ends someone’s career.