Mark Cavendish has suffered another first-stage crash and is out of the Tirreno-Adriatico having finished outside of the time limit.
The Team Dimension Data rider was taken to hospital after suffering facial cuts in the incident and although he managed to cross the finishing line battered and bloodied in Italy, he was later adjudged to have missed the cut-off point.
It was Cavendish’s first race back since the 32-year-old was forced to withdraw from last month’s Abu Dhabi Tour having sustained concussion and whiplash from a fall.
A tweet from Team Dimension Data read: “Update: @MarkCavendish completed today’s team time trial, but following his crash our medical staff will be taking him to hospital as a follow-up.”
The team’s director Rolf Aldag admitted he thought it was a pothole that had caused Cavendish to crash.
“It was very likely a pothole that hit his back wheel,” Aldag said in quotes published on cyclingnews.com.
“There’s a lot of holes in the riding line, he probably hit one of those and at 60kph, it never ends really good. On the TT bike, you’re down low with the load on the front, so if you go down, you go on your head so of course that’s not too cool.”
In the ‘Race of the Two Seas’, Chris Froome’s Team Sky finished third in an opening team time trial that was won by BMC Racing.
It means Froome is already well placed in the general classification standings ahead of the mountain stages.
Cavendish later posted two updates on his Instagram story showing the extent of the damage to his face.
“So I had a crash in the team time trial today,” he said in one video.
“When am I going to get a break? Just waiting now on an X-ray on my ribs, hurt my ribs a little bit. My face looks worse than it is, bit sore, but I’ll survive.”