Team Katusha's Alexander Kristoff has clarified the comments he made about Mark Cavendish after he crashed during stage 1 in Harrogate, saying he does not think the Omega Pharma-QuickStep sprinter somehow 'crashed on purpose' in the sprint that decided the Tour de France opener on Saturday.
Late on Monday, after stage 3 into London, the BBC reported that Mark Cavendish's agent Simon Bayliff said Cavendish was considering legal action and considered Kristoff's comments libelous.
Cavendish is due to undergo surgery on Wednesday after he ruptured several ligaments in his right shoulder during the crash. He is expected to be out of action for at least six weeks.
Kristoff defended his right to express his opinion but explained what he really intended to say.
"I don’t think anyone crashes on purpose, that's not what I wanted to say," Kristoff told Cyclingnews and the dozen Norwegian journalists on the Tour de France, after finishing second in the stage 4 sprint in Lille.
"He moved towards Gerrans and that's what I think he did on purpose. I didn’t mean to say that he crashed on purpose, I know he wouldn't do that.
"I've got a lot of respect for Cavendish. He's one of the greatest sprinters that I've ever seen. But I don't think his move (in the sprint) was a good one. I'm always going to speak my mind but I didn't intend to be disrespectful to Cavendish. I hope he can understand that."
Looking for a Tour de France stage win
The Katusha team is working hard to set up Kristoff for a stage victory at the Tour de France and he went close in Lille, with only Marcel Kittel coming past him after the German came off his wheel in sight of the line.
After winning Milan-San Remo and finishing fifth at the Tour of Flanders this spring, Kristoff is convinced he can do well on the cobbled stage 5 to Arenberg on Wednesday.
"I wanted to win today, it was close but Kittel was a little bit too strong and I hit the front a little bit too early," he said.
"I'll try again tomorrow and I hope I can take a win. It could be my day."
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