Mark Cavendish's hopes of a 22nd Tour de France stage win were derailed when he was caught up in a late crash at the end of stage four yesterday, not long after Team Sky sponsor Shimano posted this video where he implied his early win signalled a 'different' kind of Tour this year.
"It usually takes me a few days to get into the groove, and that's with a team structured round me," says Team Sky's Cav, who in some previous years has taken a few days to nail a win. "It's going to be the whole Tour de France a bit different for me this year."
The Manxman, who was named for the Olympic road race team yesterday, along with Wiggins, Millar, Stannard and Froome, stormed to his 21st stage victory on Monday in Tournai, but he and his colleague Bernhard Eisel were among a number of riders brought down in a mass pile-up with 2.7 kilometres remaining yesterday.
He also alludes to the demands of taking on a Tour back to back with an Olympics, saying: "Usually I do a Tour and I'm finished for a while, you know, but this year, six days after, we have the Olympic road race.
"It's a course that could suit us as a team... So I've had to focus my training around being able to sustain it for a week longer than normal."
Cav eventually made a dazed and slow crossing of the finish line after his crash, his shredded jersey hanging off, but it doesn't seem to have caused serious damage. The fact that teammate Bradley Wiggins managed to hang onto his second place on general classification will have improved Cav's mood too. For the full race report, click here.
Team Sky doctor Alan Farrell gave an encouraging update on the condition of both Cavendish and Eisel following the stage, saying: "Both Cav and Bernie had heavy crashes but luckily all their injuries seem relatively superficial and there are no broken bones.
"We are just taking them back to the hotel for further assessment and to look after their wounds but we are very hopeful in terms of the prognosis and outlook."
Sean Yates, Team Sky Sports Director said: “It was certainly not what we wanted to see.
"The lead-up to a sprint is very dangerous and we see this kind of thing time and time again. Nobody wants to see crashes for anybody and we were among the victims again today.
“There wasn’t a lot of room there in the bunch. At that speed with a touch of wheels, before you know it you are lying on the deck. The guys are battered and bruised but they will fight on. These guys are tough. We saw Cav jump back up after his accident at the Giro.
“Up to that point the day had been relatively straight forward and a lot calmer than yesterday. But it’s never over until it’s over. The crash was inside the 3km and so the rule applies and Bradley held station on the GC.”
Cavendish's girlfriend Peta Todd didn't hold her feelings back on Twitter, writing:
"And that is what happens when you take a a man that is so harshly marked to the tour without protection.
"This is peoples lives. If you haven't got the intention of making sure you have the team to look after the World Champ. Don't just wing it. He is just a man."
The tweets were subsequently deleted, and she wrote:
"not attacking any1 sky is an incredible team,1 i support fiercely bt this is my family &risks need 2 b addressed"
She later posted a more upbeat message, saying: "Its like @TeamSky are made of rubber ... bouncing back 'left-right-and-centre' all men ready for stage 5"
Up ahead André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) claimed the victory ahead of Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) and Tom Veelers (Argos-Shimano).
<p>After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.</p>