VITTEL (France) • Mark Cavendish praised the Tour de France jury's "courage" after it kicked world champion Peter Sagan out of the cycling race for sending the Briton crashing to the ground in a chaotic sprint finale on Tuesday.
Sagan appeared to elbow Cavendish off balance at the end of the fourth stage, and the Dimension Data rider suffered a broken shoulder blade in the crash that occurred at more than 60kmh.
"It takes a lot of courage, a lot of b***s, to eliminate the world champion from the Tour de France," Cavendish, who was hoping to add to his 30 Tour stage wins, told reporters before the start of yesterday's fifth stage, which was won by Astana's Fabio Aru.
Sagan's fate, however, was not Cavendish's main concern on Tuesday.
"My initial worry was my finger. Like it was bleeding. It was like an Eli Roth (horror) movie.
"There was just a puddle of blood on the floor. I thought I'm going to bleed to death," he said.
Cavendish dismissed suggestions that he was forcing his way between Sagan and the safety barrier when Sagan flicked his elbow out.
"I know what kind of gaps I can fit through," he explained.
Sagan has apologised to Cavendish, who said he appreciated the gesture. "It was the elbow which I said I was confused about. I spoke to Peter about that. Whether or not it was intentional, it does not look great," he said.
"It was an honourable thing to see Peter here at the bus, already come to apologise. It shows the man he is, and I appreciate that more than anything."
Sagan accepted defeat yesterday in his bid to have his disqualification overturned after his Bora team appealed.
The 27-year-old Slovak said he did not agree with the sanction but had accepted it.
"I can only accept the decision of the jury, but I disagree. I don't think I've done anything wrong in the sprint," he said.
The race commissioner had decided late on Tuesday to expel the Bora rider for having "endangered some of his colleagues seriously".
"Mark was coming really fast from the back and I just didn't have time to react and to go left. He came into me and he went into the fence," Sagan had protested.
In yesterday's 160.5km fifth stage from Vittel to La Planche des Belles Filles, Italian rider Fabio Aru demonstrated his title credentials with a dramatic burst away on the final climb.
Team Sky had appeared in control of the climb before Aru attacked 2km from the finish line. Sky's Chris Froome led the chase, with team-mate Geraint Thomas unable to keep pace.
Froome, who took the yellow jersey from Thomas, now leads Thomas by 12 seconds in the overall classification, with Aru just two seconds further back.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
TOUR DE FRANCE
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