Kristoff criticizes Cavendish's sprint style

Katusha sprinter hoping to win in London

Milan-San Remo winner has Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) has criticized Mark Cavendish's sprinting style, suggesting the Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider "lost his head a little bit” as he tried to win the opening stage of the Tour de France in Harrogate. He went as far as comparing Cavendish to football player Luis Suarez, who has track record of biting opponents in the heat of the moment.

Cavendish tried to move past Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) at speed in sight of the line but caused the high-speed crash that left several riders battered and bruised.

Cavendish ruptured several ligaments and dislocated his right shoulder, forcing him to quit the race. He may need surgery and is expected to be out of action for several weeks.

Kristoff said he was disrupted by the crash and finished seventh in the sprint won by Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano).

"I was stuck behind the crash and felt I had good legs. I don’t know if I could have beaten Kittel but I think I could have been close so it was a missed opportunity," Kristoff said.

Other riders avoided criticizing Cavendish but the Orica-GreenEdge team has said it was surprised that the race judges did not punish Cavendish for causing the crash. He openly apologized for the crash but Kristoff was still critical.

"Suarez was banned for biting people in soccer and to me it looked like he crashed on purpose," Kristoff said, suggesting that Cavendish was far too aggressive in the sprint.

"At 60 kliometres an hour it's really dangerous and you can injure people, so it's not nice of him. In an uphill sprint you lose a bit of [bike] control sometimes. It's not the first time he's done this. I hope he calms down a little bit in the future. He's a brilliant sprinter but it looks like he lost his head a little bit."

Kristoff suggested that the absence of Cavendish will change the dynamic of the sprints, starting with today's expected bunch finale in central London. Kristoff won the bunch sprint at the 2012 London Olympics to take the bronze medal behind Alexandre Vinokurov and Rigoberto Uran.

"We've still got Greipel and Kittel with their big teams and there are good sprinters at Omega Pharma without Cavendish, so they'll probably try with Renshaw, so it doesn’t change too much. But of course, Cav is one of best in the world so it makes it a little easier but sprinting is never easy," he said.

"It's not totally the same finish as the Olympic road race, we come from the other side coming to the Mall but I know I've sprinted well there and so I hope to do well again. But it was a different race. It was long and hard. I hope the London stage in the Tour will be a little easier."

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