Tour de France 2013: Mark Cavendish says crash not his fault

Cavendish grabs reporter's equipment

Mark Cavendish claimed he was not at fault for a crash at the end of stage 10 of the Tour de France as Marcel Kittel took victory in Saint Malo.

Kittel edged Andre Greipel in a sprint finish, with Cavendish third after colliding with Kittel's lead-out man Tom Veelers and sending him tumbling.

The Manxman tweeted:external-link "Just seen the sprint. I believe I didn't move line.

"I'm actually coming past Veelers and we touch elbows when he moves. Anyway, hope he's OK."

Britain's Chris Froome remains in the overall race lead after avoiding the aftermath of the crash on an otherwise untroubled day.

"It was a bit tricky towards the end, but I always had a team-mate with me and I kept out of trouble," Froome said.

"It's always nervous when you come into the last 2km with a bunch sprint coming off the final bend, but I was to one side of the crash and went around it without any problems."

Cavendish will not be punished for his part in the incident, which came in a bunch sprint at the very end of a largely flat 197km (122-mile) route that started in Saint Gildas DesBois in north west France.

An army of British fans had crossed the channel in hope of seeing Cavendish claim his second stage win of this year's race and 25th Tour stage win in total.

But he could not get close to his sprint rivals Greipel and Kittel, with the latter timing his attack perfectly to pip his fellow German at the line.

Behind them on the home straight, Veelers slowed down and veered to his right, into Cavendish's path, after leading out his Argos-Shimano team-mate Greipel. Cavendish barged past him and knocked the Dutchman off his bike.

Race commissaries ruled the clash was Veelers' fault and Cavendish denied any intent on his part, adding on Twitter: "There's no way I'd move on a rider deliberately, especially one not contesting a sprint."

Veelers, who was not badly hurt in the incident, said: "I had the feeling Cavendish was boxed in my wheel. He touched my handlebars and knocked me over."

Kitttel absolved Cavendish of responsibility, saying: "I cannot imagine that Cavendish did that on purpose, it just happens sometimes in a hectic finale. Every sprinter wants to come to the front when he comes to the line and I hope that he is OK.

"You can see that Cavendish really bumped into the handlebar of Tom but it doesn't look like he does it on purpose."

Immediately after the stage, Cavendish was involved in an angry confrontation with reporters after being asked about the collision and the disappointing lead-out attempts from his Omega Pharma-QuickStep team.

"We came up, we lost our guys early," Cavendish said. "I tried to follow [team-mate] Gert Steegmans, I followed his lead and launched from there.

"It was too early in the sprint so I settled back on to Tom's wheel and when Greipel kicked I went then. We as a team could have done something different. We will talk about that later."

No other riders were affected by the crash despite its proximity to the finish line and the fact it happened in front of a fast-moving peloton.

Team Sky rider Froome retains his lead of one minute and 25 seconds over second-placed Alejandro Valverde, and will look to extend his advantage in Wednesday's 33km (20.5-mile) time trial, which finishes in Mont Saint Michel.

"It is definitely a day where I will try and extend my lead,'' Froome said. "It is definitely a day that could help the general classification. I definitely want to go for it."

Stage 10 results:

1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Argos 4:53:25"

2. Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto same time

3. Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step

4. Peter Sagan (Slo) Cannondale

5. William Bonnet (Fra)

Selected others:

21. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing same time

24. Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky

25. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar

31. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff

39. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin +1:44"

47. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar

82 Andy Schleck (Lux) Radioshack Leopard

Overall standings after stage 10:

1. Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky 41:52:43"

2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar +1:25"

3. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin +1:44"

4. Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Belkin +1:50"

5. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Saxo-Tinkoff +1:51"

Selected others:

6. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff +1'51"

7. Nairo Quintana (Spa) Movistar +2'02"

8. Daniel Martin (Ire) Garmin +2'28"

9. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha +2'31"

16. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC +4'36"

34. Richie Porte (GB) Team Sky +20'10"

47. Nicolas Roche (Ire) Saxo-Tinkoff +31'50"

83. Peter Kennaugh (GB) Team Sky +55'51"

99. David Millar (GB) Garmin +1h10'28"

148. Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma-Quickstep +1h38'50"

165. Ian Stannard (GB) Team Sky +1h48'16"

175. Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky +1h53'06"

Green points jersey standings after stage 10:

1. Peter Sagan (Svk/Cannondale) 269 points

2. Andre Greipel (Ger/Lotto) 186

3. Mark Cavendish (GB/Omega Pharma - Quickstep) 166

4. Marcel Kittel (Ger/Argos-Shimano) 132

5. Alexander Kristoff (Nor/Katusha) 131