British cyclist Mark Cavendish has been ruled out of the Tour de France with a broken shoulder blade after taking a nudge from Peter Sagan.
The Manxman fell heavily after appearing to take an elbow from world champion Sagan in the final 100 metres of stage four in Vittel.
Sagan was later disqualified and kicked out of the world’s most prestigious cycle road race.
Cavendish said he was massively disappointed after the fracture was confirmed.
Sagan claimed he did not have time to react as the British cyclist made an attempt to come past him. He later went to Cavendish’s team bus to apologise.
Cavendish said he still wanted an explanation about the elbow.
He said: I was massively grateful that Peter came directly after the finish to see me… I have a good relationship with Peter.
Even with the movement to the right, obviously I wouldn’t be happy but that’s racing. But I was a little bit confused with the elbow, that’s something I’d like to speak to him about.
Cavendish was just four Tour stage wins short of equalling the record of 34 held by Eddy Merckx.
It came on a day when fellow British rider, yellow jersey holder Geraint Thomas, was involved in another crash at the end of what had otherwise been a fairly uneventful ride through the flatlands of the Lorraine region, from the Belgian border.
Team Sky’s Thomas hit the deck in a separate pile-up near the end, but as the incident occurred within 3km of the finish line he was credited with the same time as the winner.
Tour organisers initially docked Sagan 30 seconds, taking him from second to 15th and 80 points, stripping him of his green jersey, but later took tougher action.
President of the race commission Philippe Marien said: We’ve decided to disqualify Peter Sagan from the Tour de France 2017 as he endangered some of his colleagues seriously in the final metres of the sprint which happened in Vittel.
Sagan’s outfit want him reinstated, saying: The team disagrees with the decision and protested it officially.
Peter Sagan rejected to have caused, or in any way intended to cause, the crash of Mark Cavendish on the final 200m of the stage. Peter stayed on his line in the sprint and could not see Cavendish on the right side.
It means Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas remains in first place, ahead of Chris Froome by 12 seconds.
Defending champion Froome was held up by Thomas’ crash but did not go down.
Both Thomas and Froome are fine, Team Sky said.
The stage was won by French champion Arnaud Demare.
(c) Sky News 2017: Horror crash rules Mark Cavendish out of Tour de France