Mark Cavendish (Great Britain) has accepted blame and apologised for the crash that saw South Korea's Sanghoon Park stretchered out of the velodrome during the men's omnium at the Rio Olympics, but has strongly dismissed any suggestion that he had caused the incident intentionally.
The Manxman went on to claim the silver medal behind Elia Viviani (Italy), who was among the fallers in the crash in the final points race but emerged without injury. Asked about the incident by a Dutch journalist after the event, Cavendish reportedly said: "I could sue you for that, do you know that?"
"At the end of the day, I think it's sad that people think I'd do something on purpose. It was my fault, the crash. I messaged with Sanghoon this morning and I spoke to his coach last night, he's alright," Cavendish told Sky Sports.
"But I felt terrible, I really, really did. It's my fault, but it's not malicious. It's not on purpose, you know what I mean? To even insinuate that, it's not very fair. I'm just sorry that I've caused him some pain."
Cavendish had entered the final points race still within striking distance of Viviani's first place, but was frustrated in his early attempts to gain a lap and eventually focused his attention to ensuring he came away with at least a silver medal.
"I had a bad elimination race on the first day which is usually my strongest event, but having said that I was second in pursuit which is usually my weakest event, so it was swings and roundabouts I guess. I knew it would be hard behind Elia because he's a defensive rider so he always rides good from that top spot," Cavendish said. "I learned after a while I wasn't able to get laps, people didn't want to get laps with me, so I had to go in the sprints."
The omnium, Wiggins and back to road racing
After missing out on an Olympic medal in the Madison in 2008 and the road race in 2012, Cavendish turned his attention to competing in the omnium this time around. He has made no secret of his view that the multi-discipline event was a means to an end, and he again expressed disappointment that events such as the Madison and points race had been removed from the Olympic programme after 2008.
"That omnium, I've said it before, it's a silly event," Cavendish said. "We used to have four medal opportunities for endurance males plus there was the kilo for the sprinters. Then they cut down on all the events in track cycling and bundled those events into one medal, so we've got to do everything that everyone else used to do. But it's nice to have worked on everything and got a medal out of it."
Cavendish missed out on the chance to win a medal earlier in these Olympics when he was deemed surplus to requirements for Great Britain's victorious team pursuit effort, but he denied that he had fallen out with Bradley Wiggins as a result. Cavendish won the Madison world title with Wiggins in March, and will partner him when he brings the curtain down on his career at the Ghent Six in November.
"It's been blown out of proportion. At the end of the day, it was probably a slow news day and clickbait's going to do clickbait," Cavendish said. "But it's all fine."
Cavendish refused to be drawn, meanwhile, on whether he would be tempted to return to the track for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. He is set to return to road duty for his Dimension Data team, possibly at the Hamburg Cyclassics on Sunday, as he builds towards October's World Championships road race in Doha.
"I'm racing on Sunday. I've got to go back to the day job at the weekend," he said.