“I’m obviously massively disappointed to get this news about the fracture,” the 32-year-old Cavendish told The Guardian. “I feel I was in a good position to win [the stage] and to lose that and even having to leave the Tour, a race I have built my whole career around, is really sad.”
Sagan and his team, meanwhile, lost in their bid in an “urgent” appeal to the Switzerland-based Court of Arbritration for Sport to suspend the rider’s disqualification from the race.
The court said in a statement that it had rejected the appeal Thursday and Sagan “remains disqualified from the 2017 Tour de France.”
“Sagan did not cause, let alone deliberately, the fall of Mark Cavendish. … Sagan stayed on his line and could not see Cavendish on the right side,” his Bora-Hansgrohe team had argued to the court (via the Associated Press).
The incident occurred in the final 200 meters of Tuesday’s 207.5-kilometer stage, from Mondorf-les-Bains, Luxembourg, to Vittel, France, when Cavendish, winner of the second-most Tour de France stages in history, tried to pass Stage 3 winner Sagan.
The crash, which NBC Sports commentators described as “gruesome,” immediately generated controversy because it appeared Sagan elbowed Cavendish.
“We’ve decided to disqualify Peter Sagan from the Tour de France 2017 after the tumultuous sprint, here in Vittel, [France]. He endangered multiple riders, Mark Cavendish and others who were implicated in the crash, in the final meters of the sprint,” an official from the race jury told reporters (via Cycling News). “We applied article 12.104, irregular sprints, in which case commissaires are allowed to enforce a judgment to disqualify a rider and amend a fine.”
Roger Hammond, Cavendish’s sporting director with Dimension Data, described the move that led to Sagan’s expulsion as “a flick of the elbow which was completely outrageous.”
“No one comes out of it well,” he added. “This is a sad, sad day for the sport, Sagan is a hero and an idol of mine but a precedent has to be set.”
Sagan told members of the media on Tuesday that he had apologized to Cavendish. Wednesday, he elaborated in his statement: “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.”
Sagan received support from the team NBC Sports team during its telecast on Tuesday. Analysts and former pro cyclists Christian Vande Velde and Bob Roll defended Sagan, reasoning that the Slovak rider was reacting to other riders on his left.
“It’s hard to really fault Peter Sagan here,” Vande Velde said. “It looks so brutal from this perspective, but I don’t think he was trying to do that to Mark. I don’t think he was trying to hurt him.”
“Absolutely,” Roll agreed. “No place to go for Mark. He did not have enough room.”
The incident involving Cavendish was the second crash in the final three kilometers of Stage 4. The first left dozens of riders on the ground, including current race leader Geraint Thomas of Team Sky. Unlike Cavendish, none of those riders appeared to suffer serious injuries.
“I’m all right,” Thomas said via WalesOnline after the stage that saw him retain his lead. “There was a crash in front of us and again I had nowhere to go. It was just one of those things.”
Arnaud Démare won Tuesday’s stage.