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Cycling: Cavendish hangs on in race for green

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Mark Cavendish lives to fight another day in the race for the green jersey after escaping without punishment despite being at the centre of controversy when Dutch rider Tom Veelers was sent crashing to the ground at the end of stage 10 of the Tour de France.

Video footage appeared to show the Isle of Man star catching Veelers when the duo's arms came together on a bend 150 metres from the finish to the stage in the Brittany port town of Saint-Malo, sending the Argos team rider crashing to the ground.

However, while the race jury fined the Garmin rider Andrew Talansky of the US 100 Swiss Francs (US$103) for "eating in a way that damages the image of cycling", they made no decision on the crash that lit up the end of the stage, no doubt to the great relief of Cavendish.

He looked anxious when appearing in front of the media outside the Omega-Pharma team bus and snatched and threw away one journalist's dictaphone when asked if he thought the crash was his fault.

"The road was bearing left and all I do is follow the road. There will be net forums with people going mad about it but I just follow the road," he said.

"Gert (Steegmans, his teammate) went early and I tried to follow Gert. If I had followed his wheel and launched from there it would have been too early in the sprint so I settled back on to Veelers' wheel."

The incident was a bittersweet one for Argos, as Veelers survived the crash unhurt while Marcel Kittel came through to win the stage, beating his fellow German Andre Greipel in the sprint for the line.

When questioned later about the crash, Kittel tried to play down the incident and insisted that such things are just part of the game as riders jostle for position in a sprint finish.

"I saw on video the crash. It was very unlucky that they bumped into each other," he said. "Tom was going out from doing the lead-out and his handlebars touched Cavendish's.

"I cannot imagine that it was on purpose because it was just the last moment of the sprint and sometimes that happens."

Cavendish was classified third on the day, behind Kittel and his old rival Greipel but just ahead of Peter Sagan, who remains the odds-on favourite to retain the green jersey.

In the points standings, Sagan's lead from second-placed Greipel is 83 points, and 103 points from Cavendish in third, while Kittel sits fourth after a win that further underlined his great potential in the eyes of Argos coach Rudi Kemna.

"It's fantastic to see how strong teamwork led to the win by Marcel," said Kemna. "We had some problems in the last metres with Tom's crash, but the preparation before that went perfectly to plan, and seeing how relaxed and focused Marcel stayed shows how good and experienced he is.

He, like Cavendish and Greipel, will not give up the chase of Sagan until catching the Slovak star is mathematically impossible, and after Wednesday's individual time-trial there will be more opportunities for the sprinters this week.

Thursday's ride from Fougeres to Tours is almost entirely flat, as is Friday's 13th stage, which takes the peloton 173 kilometres to Saint-Amand-Montrond.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130709/cycling-cavendish-hangs-race-green