Cavendish targeted over Tour collision

Updated: 2013-07-12 07:41

By Agence France-Presse in Mont-Saint-Michel, France (China Daily)

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Froome defends ex-teammate after British sprint star pelted with urine

Tour de France leader Chris Froome came to the defense of former teammate Mark Cavendish on Wednesday and hit out at the spectator who threw urine at the British sprint star.

The incident happened during the 11th stage of the Tour de France, a 33km individual time trial between Avranches and Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy.

It came a day after Cavendish was blamed for a collision that sent Argos rider Tom Veelers crashing to the ground in Saint-Malo.

Cavendish did not talk to the media after the race, but Froome, speaking after holding onto the yellow jersey, said what happened "ruined" what has otherwise been a wonderful atmosphere throughout the 100th staging of the sport's greatest race.

"It is disappointing to hear about one individual like that," Froome said. "That's one of the beauties of our sport. Anyone can come and watch at the side of the road and enjoy the excitement and really get close to the top riders in the world.

"Mark is one of the big characters in the sport, and some people love him, some people hate him.

"But to do something disrespectful like that, that's really sad. It ruins the whole atmosphere."

Earlier in the day, Omega Pharma team CEO Patrick Lefevere confirmed Cavendish had been insulted by spectators and attacked by one individual on the race route.

"Probably some spectators were not very pleased with what happened yesterday and they yelled at him and then one idiot threw urine at him," said Lefevere.

"Mark is not upset, but he is really disappointed because he thinks he didn't deserve this.

"The cycling public is known for being very fair, we have no hooligans, but there are thousands and thousands of people on the roads and not everybody is a gentleman," the Belgian said.

Cavendish escaped without punishment following Tuesday's clash with Veelers, which happened during a sprint for the line won by German rider Marcel Kittel.

Veelers pinned the blame on the British champion, and an anxious Cavendish became embroiled in a spat with a journalist after the finish to Tuesday's stage, snatching his tape recorder after being asked if he felt the crash was his fault.

However, Cavendish later called Veelers to apologize and Lefevere hopes the matter has ended.

"He apologized already yesterday (Tuesday) on Twitter and on the phone," Lefevere said.

"If you don't agree you don't take the telephone, but he (Veelers) took the telephone."

(China Daily 07/12/2013 page24)