Mark Cavendish took a battering on a tough penultimate stage 5 for QuickStep-AlphaVinyl at the Tour of Oman but came through a hard crash to ride another day and stay in the green points jersey battle into Tuesday's final sprint stage 6 to Matrah Corniche.
The crash wasn't the only hardship of the stage for Cavendish, with the news filtering through later on via Wielerflits (opens in new tab) that he had been docked nine green jersey points for pushing off from the race doctor's car on three occasions.
The Briton held the green jersey since his thrilling come-from-behind sprint win on stage 2 and could yet be set to add another to his career collection.
Stage 5 winner Jan Hirt (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) took the classification lead with 32 points after his triumph on Green Mountain, but Cavendish remains the closest sprinter in the rankings. He was set to be level on points before the penalties but now lies just nine behind with a maximum of 15 up for grabs on stage 6.
Speaking after Monday's finish on Green Mountain, which saw his teammate and stage 5 winner Fausto Masnada drop 1:48 and the race lead to Hirt, Cavendish said that was lucky to escape with relatively minor injuries from his fall, which occurred during the wind-hit mid-section of the 150.5-kilometre day.
"As is normal with the chaos of echelons forming, I had a touch of wheels and unfortunately I came down quite heavily," he said.
"I'm lucky that my injuries seem to not be too bad, and I was able to get on my bike with just some bruising and external abrasions."
🤕 🟢@MarkCavendish & 🇱🇹@ignatas suffered a hard tumble during today's stage, but both of them got back on their bikes and made their way up Jabal Al Akhdhar (Green Mountain ⛰️)💪#TourofOman pic.twitter.com/MxJMC3sBM0February 14, 2022
After the crash, which also saw Groupama-FDJ rider Ignatas Konovalovas go down, Cavendish rolled across the road, likely saving himself from more serious injuries.
He finished the stage alongside teammate Iljo Keisse sporting cuts to his jersey and shorts, but not after doing a stint of work at the front of the peloton late in the race for his team – as well as taking two points at the second intermediate sprint of the day 11 kilometres from the line.
"I hope that the other riders involved [in the crash] are also OK and I would also like to thank the race doctor for looking after me," Cavendish added.
He now looks set to battle former teammate and stage 1 winner Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) for points classification glory on Tuesday, with the top three placers taking 15, 12 and nine points – all enough to overhaul Hirt.
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Daniel Ostanek is production editor at Cyclingnews, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later being hired as staff writer. Before Cyclingnews, he was published in numerous publications around the cycling world, including Procycling, CyclingWeekly, CyclingTips, Cyclist, and Rouleur, among others. As well as reporting and writing news and features, Daniel runs the 'How to watch' content throughout the season.
Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France, and has interviewed a number of the sport's biggest stars, including Egan Bernal, Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Mark Cavendish, and Anna van der Breggen. Daniel rides a 2002 Landbouwkrediet Colnago C40 and his favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Vuelta a España.