Tour de France 2017, stage four

Cavendish receiving treatment on the road

"It's not nice to crash like that", said Sagan, who had finished the stage in second place behind Demare.

Sagan had jutted out an elbow around 100 metres from the finish line of the fourth stage in Vittel, knocking Cavendish into the metal safety barriers and sending him crashing to the tarmac.

"I always prefer to go into a day like this thinking of the stage as a one-day race", the Quick-Step Floors rider told Press Association Sport. "It was just one of those things". Well, I've polished off my crystal ball and it's telling me that the stage will end in a sprint finish, but not until the breakaway comprising riders from Direct Énergie, Fortuneo-Oscaro and Wanty-Groupe Gobert has been reeled back in, perhaps agonisingly, before the fastmen get to work.

But it might also have surprised fans who would have expected him to be marking his general classification rivals further down the final climb rather than burning energy chasing Sagan.

"Injury-wise I'm going to go and get it checked out", he said. "He just came to me and after to the fence".

A bloodied Cavendish eventually crossed the line with a bandaged hand and his arm held in tight to his chest, Dimension Data sporting director Roger Hammond saying initially that it was too early to say whether he had broken anything. However, it appears he is now off the race regardless.

Sagan claimed Cavendish "was coming from behind" and that he "did not have time to react and go left".

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"The guy on the right side, I don't know who it was, I wanted to go on his wheel, and Mark was coming from the back but I didn't already know he was behind me", Sagan said.

Cavendish left the press for an ambulance and went to the hospital for controls. "I will definitely need stitches in this finger, it's bleeding a lot". I'm not a doctor, I don't know what, but I'm not optimistic anyway.

The world time trial champion, who had hoped to win the Stage 1 time trial in Düsseldorf and sport the yellow jersey, instead started Stage 4 sitting almost 13 minutes down on the general classification.

"I'm all right", Thomas said via WalesOnline after the stage that saw him retain his lead.

"It's incredible, beating all the best sprinters like that at the Tour de France is something I'd hoped for, for a long time", said Demare.

Sagan was aiming to match Erik Zabel's record of six green jerseys in the Tour's points classification, and he was right on target after winning Stage 3.

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