The crash in the neutralised zone of the Abu Dhabi Tour that resulted in Mark Cavendish having to abandon today’s opening stage was caused by automatic brake sensors in the race director’s car, organisers have confirmed.
The 32-year-old sprinter sustained concussion and a whiplash injury in the crash, which happened after the car suddenly slowed, causing riders behind to brake.
The event is organised by RCS Sport – owners of the Giro d’Italia and Milan-San Remo among other races – with Mercedes providing the official vehicles.
Although Cavendish remounted his bike, he abandoned 5 kilometres into the stage and was taken to hospital for tests amid concern he may have damaged the shoulder he broke in a crash at last year’s Tour de France.
Following today’s opening stage, won by Katusha’s Alexander Kristoff, race director Stefano Allocchio said that riders were close to the car, which “has those sensors that caused it to brake. And it braked.
“Unfortunately, it’s one of these things,” he continued. “Tonight, we will talk to a mechanics to make sure they are deactivated. We don’t [want] to risk this happening again.”
He added that he intends to speak to Cavendish and Dimension Data’s management about the incident.
“We will see tonight,” he explained. “We are going to go find Cav and have a talk.”
According to a tweet from Cycling Tips journalist Caley Fretz, race vehicles at last month’s Santos Tour Down Under equipped with similar automatic braking systems had a warning reminding drivers to disengage the technology.
There was a little warning in the cars at the Tour Down Under reminding drivers to turn the auto-brake feature off.
— Caley Fretz (@CaleyFretz) February 21, 2018
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.