July 05, 2017 (Vittel, FRA) – Stage 4 of this year’s Tour de France was a relatively mundane affair until the crash-marred final as riders sprinted for the line in Vittel. In the closing meters of the stage, British sprint ace Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) came in contact with two-time road world champion Peter Sagan (BORA – Hansgrohe).
Following a protest launched by Dimension Data management, a Union Cycliste International (UCI) jury decided expel Sagan from the Tour for unsafe riding. The action of the UCI has left many of the riders, staff and the wider cycling world divided on whether this was an appropriate response to the incident.
Another crash occurred at around 2km to go involving yellow jersey wearer Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) who was unhurt and as the final sprint unfolded Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits and Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal made contact with 100 meters to go. They managed to stay upright but forced the sprint to the right side of the road.
Upon further review by professional and ex-professional riders, as well as many members of the media and fans, Sagan does drift from Demare’s wheel, which contravenes the UCI’s rules governing sprints, however it seems apparent to most that Cavendish comes in contact with Sagan from behind and may have already been falling as Sagan attempts to protect himself and stay upright while fending off the rider in his space by extending his elbow.
Former classics star Magnus Backstedt weighed in tweeting that this racing incident was simply the culmination of an aggressive sprint following an easy day of racing with all riders looking to be first across the line.
Greipel, who initially voiced his anger towards Sagan changed his tone after reviewing video footage of the sprint.