Mark Cavendish has pulled out of the Tour de Suisse as the race heads for the Alps. The Manx sprinter was involved – and implicated – in a pile-up 50 yards from the line in tuesday's fourth stage and suffered extensive road rash injuries. He finished stage five over eleven minutes down on winner Marcus Burghardt of the BMC Racing Team, and didn't take to the start line for stage six.
Today's 208km stage features two Hors-category climbs and a Category 1 ascent right at the start, and in total there's nearly 5,000m of climbing. It's fair to say that it's not one that would have suited even a fighting fit Cav, so it's not surprising that he's decided to call it a day. How much the injuries are a factor and how much he's been affected by the widely reported animosity in the peloton after the spill is open to debate.
Cavendish was fined 200 Swiss Francs, docked 25 points and issued with a 30-second penalty after the crash at the end of stage four which has already seen four other riders – including Heinrich Haussler with whom Cavendish initally made contact – retire from the race. At the beginning of stage five the riders staged a protest against Cavendish, during which the Manx rider reportedly spat on the ground in response.
Cavendish's season has been dogged by setbacks. Early dental problems meant that he wasn't at full strength to defend Milan-San Remo and in April his brother was jailed for six years for drug offences. An inappropriate victory salute after a victory in stage 2 of the Tour de Romandie saw him pulled from the race by his team, HTC-Columbia. He showed some form in California before finishing outside the time limit on the sixth stage to Big Bear Lake, and was also riding well in the Tour de Suisse before Tuesday's incident.
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.