“I touched with him but the road was bearing left,” Mark Cavendish said after being in the center of the melee that caused Tom Veelers to go down in a crumpled heap in the last 200 metres on Stage 10 of the 2013 Tour de France.
“I know you’re trying to get ‘Oh, Mark Cavendish is a really bad sprinter’ again but the road’s bearing left so I followed the road.
“There’s going to be internet forums and all that going crazy about it but if the road bears left, then I’m going to follow the road and not go into the barriers.”
Tome Veelers of Argos-Shimano of course saw things a little differently – from the ground, tumbling head over arse, in fact.
Perhaps just as he finished scraping his flesh along the road he got a view of his teammate Marcel Kittel take his second stage win in this year’s Tour, beating out Andre Greipel of Lotto-Belisol.
Cavendish finished third, while Points Classifications leader Peter Sagan narrowly avoided the crash to finish fourth.
It’s a second fine win for the smaller of the two rather big Germans, and evidence of just what a good dose of confidence can do to a rider.
Kittel had seemed for so long to be in the B-League of ProTour fast men but the 25-year-old is maturing very well indeed these days.
Nobody, in reality, is ever going to go fast over 300m like the boisterous Briton but Kittel makes a welcome edition to the men who can take him on their day, and beat Greipel too, long considered the No. 2 fast man in the peloton.
Victory on Stage 1 and a day in yellow, as well as holding the green jersey and now this second win means that not only is Kittel and thus his team already having a successful Tour no matter what happens from here on in, but also that his bargaining power has just suddenly increased.
With the eyes of the cycling world focused on this race as they do for no other, here is the time to win.
Get a stage or two here, grab a jersey and when the contract negotiations come around – and there will be a lot of wheeling and dealing going on in the dark corners of hotels this month – you’re suddenly demanding 20-30 percent more cash than you ever dreamed possible.
So, chapeau to Kittel for that one, a fine victory.
But back to Cav and the argy bargy. Let’s discount if we can the times from the past that Cav has been accused of getting a little too stuck in when it comes down to the race for the line and consider what we saw.
Yes, the road was bearing left, he’s right on that one. However he is being a little disingenuous there, because clearly he rode into the backside of Veelers in a way that couldn’t be accounted for by any switch in the road – unless I missed a 90-degree turn there.
How did Veelers feel about it? Not very good, as you might imagine.
“It was Mark Cavendish’s fault, yeah,” he said, licking his wounds.
“I think that was pretty clear from the video as well.”
Cavendish got third place and some questioned whether he should have been relegated for the part he played in the Argos man’s crash, but Veelers himself shied away from giving a direct opinion.
“I’ll leave that up to the jury,” he said. “They have to decide what they do. I’m not the person who can decide, or has to decide it.
“I hope to start tomorrow, of course, again, and for now I can say I will. I lost a lot of skin, and I have some bruises, and furthermore, it is what it is,” he said.
More remarkable perhaps than Kittel’s win or that Cavendish was at the center of the mix was that Veelers somehow managed to crash solo.
A one-man tumble in a firing peloton is just amazing, and testament to the bike handling skills of those around him.
Anyone that has raced will tell you that some crashes are just plain unavoidable.
But if you could see how many potential crashes are avoided thanks to the top notch skills of these pros, as they race at speeds up to and above 10 percent faster than anyone else on earth, it would amaze you.
For every single crash there must be 30 to 40 near misses. And what a place it is at the front of a rampaging pack. Terrifying for all but the steeliest men.
Today we have a 33km time trial that is one for the traditional strong men on the flats.
There are a couple of rises but nothing too crazy and we should see, if he is recovered from his fall earlier in the race, Tony Martin up there for the win.
Chris Froome may well upset the German’s plans however, and offer up another opportunity for us to see how strong he is.
For three quarters of the peloton today is akin to a rest day, as they’ll be saving their legs for the tasks they have ahead. For others such as Cadel Evans, Alberto Contador and Alejandro Valverde, today is a big one.
Stay tuned here on The Roar for the live blog of stage tonight from 10.00pm AEST.
2013 Tour de France Points Classification – After Stage 10
1. Peter Sagan (Cannondale) – 269
2. Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) – 186
3. Mark Cavendish (Omega-Pharma Quick-Step) – 166
4. Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) – 132
5. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) – 131