The Etixx-QuickStep rider had survived the final climbs and attacks in the one-day WorldTour race and looked set to take on sprint rivals Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) for victory. However, as the different lead out trains fought to control the peloton, a touch of wheels on a straight section of road seemed to leave Cavendish on the ground.
He quickly got back up and was not hurt despite several tears on the back of his jersey but his chances of winning the Vattenfall Cyclassics had gone out of the window. Teammate Tom Boonen took over the protected sprinter role in the absence of Cavendish and finished fourth behind Greipel, Kristoff and Italy’s Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek Factory Racing). Cavendish’s last win on the road was on stage seven of the Tour de France in Fougères, when he beat Greipel and Peter Sagan.
Cavendish took the crash on the chin and eventually finished 66th, with teammate Stijn Vandenbergh. On Monday morning he tweeted: “1st crash for a while yesterday in @Cyclassics. Just 2.5km from the finish. Ah well, happy with my condition after my spell on the velodrome.”
The crash came after an eventful week that saw him become a father for a second time on Monday. Cavendish was present as his wife Peta gave birth to a boy.
The Manxman will be back in action on the track in Germany with the Great Britain team this week as he continues to pursue qualification points for a place in the UCI Track World Cup events, which could in turn ensure him a place in the Great Britain team for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games next summer. Cavendish hopes to ride the multi-discipline Omnium event in Rio.
The opening round of the World Cup takes place in Cali, Colombia on October 30. To race there, Cavendish must earn at least 90 points at UCI-ranked events in the specific discipline. Cavendish got himself off to a flying start with 72 points for his second place in the Omnium in Derby. A good performance in Germany should see him earn qualification without any problems. For the Manxman to qualify for the Olympics, he must add another 10 points to his tally between the three rounds of the World Cup and the World Championships next March. There is also the final hurdle of selection, with track specialist Ed Clancy still the favourite for the one spot in the Olympic Omnium.
Cavendish’s next road race is expected to be the Tour of Britain in the second week of September, which he has done every year since 2011.
He has yet to decide which team he will ride for in 2016 after drawn out negotiations with his current Etixx-QuickStep squad. Cavendish has said he hopes to stay at the Belgian WorldTour squad but team manager Patrick Lefevere has so far refused to strike a deal that satisfies both sides. Several teams are reported to be keen to sign Cavendish, with MTN-Qhubeka considered one possible destination for the 30 year-old Manxman. It seems any deal would include Cavendish bringing a sponsor with him to the African team plus close friends and lead out men Mark Renshaw and Bernhard Eisel.