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Tour de France: Riders past and present shocked by Peter Sagan's disqualification

Mark Cavendish is treated by the race doctor

Mark Cavendish is treated by the race doctor (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Opinions vary among the polemics being dished up in the aftermath of Peter Sagan's disqualification from the Tour de France for "irregular riding" when Mark Cavendish crashed at the end of stage 4 on Monday. The crash and subsequent penalty are so controversial that even an eye witness like sprinter Andre Greipel has multiple opinions.

In the finishing straight directly after the line, Greipel laid into Sagan for what he perceived as the world champion's role in the crash, which saw Cavendish plow into the barriers on the right-hand side of the road and other riders go down trying to avoid him. The race jury obviously agreed with Greipel's initial opinion, levying the harshest penalty possible by kicking the Bora-Hansgrohe rider out of the race.

Several hours later, however, Greipel's opinion had changed.

"Sometimes I should watch images before I say something," the German from Lotto Soudal wrote on Twitter. "Apologies to @petosagan as I think that decision of the judge is too hard."

BMC Racing manager Jim Ochowicz took a more circuitous route to determining Sagan's action were indeed irregular.

"Remember that that group of highly experienced professional sprinters, they know every second where they are in those closing moments," Ochowicz told NBC Sports. "They know who's close to them and who's not close to them. They know each other so well that they have an obligation to ride a straight line and to keep themselves from getting in this kind of trouble, because this affects a lot of people in the bike race.

"You're fortunate there weren't more people in that crash," he continued. "The only reason there aren't more people on the ground in that crash is because there was another crash 400 metres prior to that. Otherwise you could have had a lot more carnage than what you saw. They have an obligation to ride a straight line in the sprint, and when they don't do it there's people that will review the incident and make decision about what the ramifications are.

"They know where they are. [Cavendish] didn't go into that space if he didn't think he could make it through it. He went in there, and the contact was made, but the body motion of Sagan was a bit extreme."

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Below is a sampling of social media posts about the crash and Sagan's disqualification.

"Don't want to watch Le Tour de France anymore. Sagan is Le Tour and was rubbed by some fat, never raced jury who is on his high horse dq'ing the world champ and the best thing that's happened to cycling this century. If Cav tells me otherwise I will delete my post," Brown wrote.

Current sports director of Silber Pro Cycling, Gord Fraser was a sprinter for Motorola and Mercury-Viatel during his career and also took to Facebook  to share his opinion.

"It's clear that when when Demare launched he'd be the one to beat and Sagan was simply desperate to hitch on. Cav had already gambled up barrier side and had momentum but that half bike length he left behind demare was all the peripheral space Sagan went for. I'm sure PS had zero clue Cav was even there until they made contact and did well to stay upright. Lesson? When you go up the narrow barrier side be prepared for the door to close. Gaviria won taking this risk in the Giro. Sometimes you hit jackpot despite the odds. Unfortunately for Cav it was craps. No foul and certainly no DQ merited. I'd say demare chopping over Bouhani's front wheel was a more conscious and risky move but still within sprinting limitations.

"Here's my beef. Why can't the UCI find some ex pros to take the comms course and insist on one at all times on the race jury? I'm constantly frustrated by officials quoting a rule book w zero practical race experience. A former bunch sprinter on the panel for flat stages and climber for the mountains."