Having watched a lot of this year’s TdF on ITV4 and Eurosport Deutschland (it’s FTA on Satellite, Astra 1L 19.2°E), I still enjoyed reading Ed’s and Martin’s reports for an additional insight to the racing. However, I’m going to try to persuade you to change your opinion of the Sagan/Cavendish incident on Stage Four, the Sagan Saga.
No doubt following the racing day by day is hectic and there can’t be much time after finding vantage points, accommodation, bars and pizzas to file your reports, let alone study videos of the action.
I recommend viewing the Eurosport Brian Smith piece on steephill.tv where you will also see Bouhani nearly knocked off his bike, first by Greipel and then by Demare, both of whom should have been sanctioned under the same rule regarding holding one’s line.
I agree with Brian Smith’s comments, although he labours the point (and Iljo Keisse’s and Tom Boonen’s, reported in the Dutch Press), about Sagan’s grabbing a wheel, no matter what.
Have a look at the following frames from the overhead video footage (but you should watch the video first), in which it seems clear that Cavendish did not go for a gap but in fact was on Demare’s wheel throughout.
The actual video shows Demare and Cavendish going faster than Sagan who, until the incident, rode on a different, parallel line.
The top right-hand image appears to show Cavendish, who, having a smaller and lighter physique than Sagan, preparing for the shove he knew was coming.
Even with the tree foliage getting in the way at the crucial moment there is enough evidence to show that Sagan deviated from his line, was not unbalanced, Cavendish was not behind Sagan but on his shoulder when Sagan used his body to shove Cavendish, the elbow flick, although ineffective, was also deliberate.
Sagan had earlier this year experienced the danger of riding close to the barriers so he must have known what might happen to the rider he was about to shove into them.
The rules state that:
Part II: Road Races
Riders shall be strictly forbidden to deviate from the lane they selected when launching into the sprint and, in so doing, endangering others.
Apparently, there was a pre-race meeting of organisers and teams where it was emphasised that the sprints would be particularly scrutinised and the rules applied vigorously.
What further disappoints me is Sagan’s subsequent pronouncements about not doing anything wrong and that his actions were not deliberate.
Various people in the media have said that cycling needs Peter Sagan.
It does not.
A World Champion should behave like one.
And it seems strange that anyone should complain that the disqualification of Sagan was too harsh when he appears, to me, to have got off lightly.
Part 12: Discipline and Procedures
12.1.005 Forms of infringement
Anyone subject to UCI Regulations shall be suspended for a minimum of one and a maximum of six months, who:
1. behaves in a violent manner or uses defamatory or abusive language to or about a commissaire, a UCI body or its members or, in general, anyone performing a function provided for in the UCI Constitution or Regulations,
2. behaves in such a way as to blemish the image, the reputation or the interests of cycling or the UCI,
3. without valid reason, fails to respond when convened or summoned by a UCI authority or disciplinary body.
Despite there never having been any scientific tests on elite cyclists to prove that any of the substances or methods on WADA’s banned list have any performance enhancing effects whatsoever, the punishment for trying to gain an advantage by using them is a ban of four years, (Armstrong being the exception), even though the individual does no harm to others.
Sagan’s method of trying to gain an advantage was cruder, by violence.
Surely, he merits the same punishment.
On this occasion a rider ended up in hospital: next time it may be the morgue.
Perhaps Peter Sagan would be better off switching from cycling to football where one can see on any day of the week, players deliberately injuring opponents with no compunction and no real punishment meted out.
The odd thing is, when I looked at Cav’s Twitter page, he and Sagan had exchanged messages and appeared to be the best of friends.
Perhaps nobody cares, after all, there has been practically nothing in any media in Europe that I can find about Claudia Cretti and Jamey Dehens, two riders who have had racing accidents and been in comas this last week or so.
I hope all those frog’s legs haven’t upset your stomachs and you’re glad to be back home for a proper fry-up.