sport

Cavendish 'sprayed with urine'

Omega Pharma-Quick Step will not take further action after Mark Cavendish had urine thrown at him by a spectator at the Tour de France.

The incident came during the 33km individual time trial to Mont-Saint-Michel, with the roads from Avranches lined with fans.

Cavendish was being jeered by some of those fans after the British national champion was embroiled in controversy last night when a crash late on stage 10 to Saint-Malo sent Tom Veelers to the floor and ended Cavendish's hopes of a stage win.

Although Cavendish was cleared by the race commissaries, many fans blamed the Manxman for the collision on social media and one took matters further on the roadside.

Cavendish refused to answer questions about the matter but his team spoke for him, with team manager Patrick Lefevere condemning the actions of the spectator involved.

"I regret this, I always felt that cycling fans were gentlemen, enthusiastic people," he said.

"Mark is sad, he's not upset, just sad. I cannot blame anyone, there are 100,000 or 200,000 people on the road, and one person decided to do this."

Sporting director Brian Holm said the team would take no further action, and pointed the finger at the media for the coverage of last night's crash.

"I couldn't see it was urine but I thought people were quite negative," Holm said on Cycling Weekly's website.

"So congrats to the media for yesterday making him look like he caused the crash."

Although Cavendish was cleared of blame, Veelers reacted angrily and on Tuesday night called for Cavendish to be disqualified.

"Everybody said it was Cav, Cav, Cav," Holm continued.

"The international commissaries said he made no mistake. It's not going to be a long discussion. It's part of the race. And Cav would never, ever crash somebody on purpose."

Wednesday's incident was first reported by Cavendish's team-mate Jerome Pineau on Twitter, with the Frenchman saying it had brought shame on the Tour crowds.

"Yesterday I was so proud to see the support at the race but today I am ashamed," Pineau wrote.

"Ashamed when my friend @MarkCavendish tells me he has been whistled and even sprayed with urine on the course. It's scandalous."

Cyclists have always been vulnerable on the roads, particularly in the major events like the Tour where large crowds line the routes and are able to get very close.

In 1975, Eddy Merckx was famously punched in the kidneys while chasing what would have been a record sixth Tour de France victory, while Lance Armstrong was given bodyguards for a time trial on Alpe d'Huez in 2004 after receiving death threats.

Cavendish remained silent when asked if he would comment on the incident, offering only a shake of the head before disappearing inside the team bus.

The team are now hoping a line can be drawn under the matter so that both Veelers and Cavendish can focus on the rest of the Tour - with Cavendish having had a disappointing race to date.

Two crashes - including Tuesday's - have robbed him of opportunities to win stages, while he was denied the chance to take the yellow jersey on the opening day amid the chaos in Bastia.

He is also 103 points behind Peter Sagan in the battle for the points leader's green jersey.

However, Holm fears he could have even more cause for concern if the current controversy does not die down.

"I hope it's not a general situation," he said.

"He's going to have some long days in the Alps if people keep throwing p*** on him!"