UCI: Sagan-Cavendish Tour crash was ‘unintentional race incident’

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Just hours before a hearing on the Tour de France crash involving Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), the UCI reached an out-of-court deal to settle the case.

Blasting into Vittel on July 4, Cavendish worked his way ahead on the right side of the road when Sagan’s right elbow shot out. Cavendish fell at high speed when he ran out of room and broke his right shoulder blade. He abandoned the race and Sagan was booted a short time later when the UCI jury applied rule 12.1.040 for irregular sprinting.

“Having considered the materials submitted in the CAS proceedings, including video footage that was not available at the time when the race jury had disqualified Peter Sagan, the parties agreed that the crash was an unfortunate and unintentional race incident and that the UCI Commissaires made their decision based on their best judgment in the circumstances,” read a joint statement from Bora and the UCI.

“On this basis, the parties agreed not to continue with the legal proceedings and to focus on the positive steps that can be taken in the future instead.”

Immediately after the incident, Bora filed an express appeal to sport’s high court, the CAS, to reinstate its star in the Tour, but the court backed the jury’s decision. Bora argued that the race jury should have heard Sagan’s side of the story before ruling, but the jury defended its decision at the time.

The CAS gave Bora its space in Lausanne, Switzerland, and was due to hear the case today. The team had lost a precious marketing opportunity and a chance for WorldTour points when its newly signed star Sagan was sent home early into the Tour. It signed him last winter for an estimated 4 million euros annually.

Sagan disagreed with the ruling and a court case appeared ready to be heard. However, both the team and the UCI avoided a battle and released statements overnight, with Sagan’s team coming out on top.

“The past is already forgotten,” said the three-time defending world champion Sagan. “It’s all about improving our sport in the future. I welcome the fact that what happened to me in Vittel has showed that the UCI commissaires’ work is a difficult one and that the UCI has recognized the need to facilitate their work in a more effective way. I am happy that my case will lead to positive developments, because it is important for our sport to make fair and comprehensible decisions, even if emotions are sometimes heated up.”

Cavendish and Dimension Data had not yet commented on the ruling when this article was published. In the Tour, Cavendish said of the decision to disqualify Sagan, “What you have to do here is take away the riders involved, take away the jerseys involved, and look at what happened. And that’s why we have a jury to make decisions.”

The statements said new video footage showed that the jury was wrong in its decision to say Sagan was mistaken last summer in Vittel.

“It has always been our goal to make clear that Peter had not caused Mark Cavendish’s fall,” Bora general manager Ralph Denk said. “This was Peter’s position from day one.

“No one wants riders to fall or get hurt, but the incident in Vittel was a race accident as can happen in the course of a sprint. My job as a team manager is to protect my riders and sponsors. I think that this is what we, as a team, have done. I am reinforced in my view that neither Peter nor Bora-Hansgrohe have made any mistakes.”

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