Mark Cavendish, until Monday without a win in more than three years, has won his third stage of the Presidential Tour of Turkey in as many days to extend his overall lead in the race ahead of it heading into the mountains tomorrow. However, the Deceuninck-Quick Step rider's win was overshadowed by a huge crash in the closing few hundred metres which saw riders hit barriers on either side of the approach to the line, once again raising concerns over safety at the finish of sprint stages.
The UCI has been working on improving rider safety since Fabio Jakobsen suffered horrific injuries when he was pushed into the barriers during the sprint at the opening stage of last August’s Tour de Pologne by Jumbo-Visma’s Dylan Groenewegen, who received a nine month ban from racing.
Shortly before the crash today Jakobsen, who is making his comeback race for Deceunick-Quick Step here, had peeled off the front of the peloton after forming part of Cavendish’s lead out train.
In the sprint for the line, the 35-year-old former world champion got on the wheel of Alpecin-Fenix’s Jasper Philipsen and came round him to complete a hat-trick of victories that few would have predicted at the start of the week. Polish national champion Stanislaw Aniolkowski of Bingoal Pauwels Sauces finished third.
Aerial footage shows that behind them, Arvid De Kleijn of Rally Cycling, in the orange and who came fourth today, moved towards the left-hand barriers as he tried to find space to launch his sprint.
— La Flamme Rouge (@laflammerouge16) April 14, 2021
The manoeuvre meant that Delko’s Pierre Barbier came perilously close to hitting the barriers and it seems that in his effort to stay upright, there was a touch of wheels between the French rider and a Gazprom-Rusvelo rider behind him, which appears to be what triggered the crash.
Initially it seemed as though all riders had escaped relatively unscathed, although there have since been reports of ambulances being present at the scene as some continued to receive treatment, and we will update this story as and when we have more information.
— MtbApp (@MtbApp) April 14, 2021
The UCI is working on introducing new safety standards for finish line barriers for next season, but as an interim measure requires that from the start of this month, they must be continuous with no gaps between them, which TV footage suggests was not the case today.
Commenting on yet another victory, and the 800th in the history of the Quick-Step team since it was founded under the Quick-Step–Davitamon name in 2003, Cavendish said: “It’s nice, and to be sincere, it’s irrelevant how many wins are in a row, it’s just nice to win again. It’s great that the team believes in me and I’m grateful to them for that.
"At the beginning of the year all I wanted to do is win a race, and now I have done it three times. I’m proud to have racked up Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s 800th victory, but to me the most important thing is that I’m part of this family, which is an honour.
“The most special thing about today wasn’t my win, but seeing how far into the stage Fabio got. It was beautiful to see him there, doing a phenomenal job for the squad and enjoying racing. Having him up there motivated me to finish it off.
"I’m proud to have such amazing teammates, and at the end of the day, that is what really makes everything special."
Images: Stuart Franklin, Getty Images
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.