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Cavendish back down to earth with a bang
Mark Cavendish is aiming to bounce back on stage five of the Tour de France after a spectacular crash saw him flirt with the end of his Olympic dream.
The world champion and one of the favourites for the London 2012 cycling road race on July 28, suffered superficial injuries in the final three kilometres of the 214.5km fourth stage from Abbeville to Rouen as a crash fractured the peloton.
Cavendish (Team Sky) wrote on Twitter: "Ouch..... Crash at 2.5km to finish today. Taken some scuffs to my left side, but I've bounced pretty well again."
The 27-year-old was expected to take to the start line for the 196.5km fifth stage from Rouen to Saint-Quentin, again seeking his 22nd Tour stage success, on another route set to end in a bunch sprint.
The opportunity was missed as Cavendish tumbled to the tarmac, before picking himself up gingerly, his world champion's jersey in tatters and ripped across the back, and riding across the finish line more than four minutes behind stage winner Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol).
His team-mate Bernhard Eisel, who acts as his bodyguard, required stitches to a wound above his eye following the stage.
Team Sky doctor Alan Farrell described both Cavendish and Eisel's injuries as "superficial", reported no broken bones and said he was "very hopeful in terms of the prognosis and outlook".
The incident occurring in the final 3km meant there was no impact on the general classification standings, with Fabian Cancellara retaining the yellow jersey ahead of Cavendish's team-mate Bradley Wiggins.
Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) believes without a supreme squad like HTC-Highroad, for whom Cavendish was leader and won 20 Tour stages, the battle of the sprint teams is more even and there is the potential for more danger.
Cancellara said: "The fight is bigger, everyone is fighting to put his rider in the right place, only Lotto with Greipel are riding. With three kilometres to go there was a mass of riders and someone touched someone else. It's not done on purpose, just everyone fighting to get the best spot."