The Peter Saga: A Rough Guide to the Stage 4 ‘Incident’

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Peter Sagan: expelled from the Tour. Mark Cavendish: out with a broken shoulder. Arnaud Démare: in the green jersey. We try to make sense of the madness

Photographs: Leon van Bon

So, what happened?

 

Cavendish crashed, big time. He sustained a broken shoulder, same one he damaged in the opening stage of the 2014 Tour in Harrogate.

 

Nightmare. What happened?

 

Ah… Are you sitting comfortably? André Greipel’s back wheel skipped out in one direction, anybody with any sense moved in the other direction, Bouhanni went all over the shop, Sagan swerved to the right and took out Cavendish, who was closing fast on the back wheel of stage winner Arnaud Démare.

 

Strewth. So a bit of a pig’s ear, then?

 

Messiest sprint we have seen in years.

 

But just one of those things, yeah? I mean, sprinting is a big old mess at the best of times…

 

You may think so, but the general public thought otherwise. Sagan’s elbow clearly stuck out and left Cavendish with nowhere to go but the barriers. Sagan was initially demoted and had points subtracted, then after the jury’s deliberation, and to everyone’s surprise, was disqualified from the race.

 

 

Trial by Twitter jury, you mean? What do they know? Armchair idiots!

 

Easy, tiger. This was the bona fide Tour de France race jury. And some of our best friends use social media, as it happens. In fact, our very own Twitter poll returned 29% in favour of his DQ, and 71% against. Quite reasonable, all things considered.

 

Whatever. Rouleur readers are idiots too. Cav is one of our own. We should be looking after his interests first and foremost. He’s lovely.

 

Let’s face it, a younger Mark Cavendish would not have hesitated to pull a similarly borderline legal move in his younger days. He has a bit of form, this lad.

 

That’s not very patriotic of you. Talking of which, the race jury is presumably multinational?

 

Good question, although the jury president Philippe Marien said: “There was a very long discussion, it’s not an easy decision to take, it’s not because it’s about Sagan, but it’s about the act that a rider made.”

 

 

So the world champion, the single most marketable man in cycling (no offence, Chris), has been turfed off the biggest bike race there is, to make an example of him?

 

That’s about the size of it, yes.

 

Are they insane?

 

How dare you. This is our fine upstanding ruling body you refer to.

 

But who stands to gain from this madness?

 

Well, Démare suddenly finds himself in the green jersey and also leading the points competition by 43 points, with two of his main competitors taken out in one fell swoop.

 

Right. And Démare is French, right?

 

I’m not sure where you’re going with this… Yes, he is the first Frenchman to win a Tour sprint stage since 2006 and, yes, it is not exactly unheard of for a national tour to skew the lie of the land towards its favourite sons and daughters, but this was bigger than sport; bigger than petty nationalism.

 

Really?

 

No.

 

 

But sprinting is a rufty-tufty, hurly-burly kind of thing, right? Crashes happen all the time. How does taking Sagan out of the equation make it any safer?

 

It doesn’t. It reduces public interest all round.

 

So Le Tour has scored le own goal?

 

Bien sûr

 

 

 

Legends mugs by Richard Mitchelson