Tour de Suisse stage 4 carnage, Petacchi wins, Cavendish crashes and fined

Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre) took an unlikely stage victory in the Tour de Suisse in a dramatic finale that saw Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) collide with Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo TestTeam) and take down the other top sprinters.

Cavendish, unleashing what looked to be a race-winning acceleration, slammed into Haussler as the pair muscled past Milram’s Gerald Ciolek, sending both riders tumbling to the pavement. Ciolek rammed the pair and also went down.

Cavendish about to hit the hard stuff - Courtesy AFP
Cavendish about to hit the hard stuff - Courtesy AFP

Petacchi emerged from the resulting chaos to take the win ahead of Matti Breschel (Saxo Bank) and Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil), but, looking back to witness the carnage before crossing the line, did not celebrate his victory.

The Lampre sprinter was not necessarily in contention for the stage victory until the sudden crash. He led a group to the right side of the course, while Cavendish, Ciolek and Haussler were fighting it out ahead down the middle.

“I won but after a crazy finish and huge crash,” Petacchi said. “I committed to one side of the road to launch my sprint. I kept looking across to see where my rivals were but then I noticed a strange movement and heard a huge noise. At that point I just kept going straight ahead because I knew I’d won.

“I’m sorry to have beaten people like Cavendish, Haussler and Ciolek because they were caught up in a crash and I don’t know if I’d have won anyway. But life is strange: after a lot of really bad luck, I was really lucky today.”

While Cavendish and Ciolek escaped injury, Haussler was taken to hospital for examinations after rolling across the line, and Caisse d’Epargne’s Arnaud Coyot was transported from the race in an ambulance with a suspected broken hip.

As a result of the crash, Mark Cavendish is being penalized and fined.

Cavendish after the crash - Courtesy Graham Watson

Cavendish is being sanctioned 25 points in the sprinter competition and 30 seconds on the general classification. He also is being fined 200 Swiss francs.

Cavendish appeared to change his line in the sprint, veering into Cervelo’s Heinrich Haussler, causing a crash that brought down a dozen riders. Heinrich’s team announced later that he was leaving the race due to a deep cut on his arm.

“I didn’t see Cavendish coming,” Haussler said in a team statement. “He drove into my wheel and before I knew it, I went down and was lying on the ground. I could have won the stage today.”

Stage 4 results:

  • 1. Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini)
  • 2. Matti Breschel (Saxo Bank)
  • 3. Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil)
  • 4. Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Caisse D’epargne)
  • 5. Robbie McEwen (Katusha)
  • 6. Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky Team)
  • 7. Daniele Pietropolli (Lampre-Farnese Vini)
  • 8. Bauke Mollema (Rabobank)
  • 9. Andreas Kloden (RadioShack)
  • 10. Dries Devenyns (Quick Step)

GC:

  • 1. Tony Martin Team HTC – Columbia in 14:35:37
  • 2. Fabian Cancellara Team Saxo Bank at 1
  • 3. Thomas LÖvkvist Sky Professional Cycling Team at 9
  • 4. Rigoberto Uran Uran Caisse D’epargne at 10
  • 5. Dries Devenyns Quick Step at 11
  • 6. Steve Morabito BMC Racing Team at 11
  • 7. Frank Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 13
  • 8. Jakob Fuglsang Team Saxo Bank at 14
  • 9. Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas Euskaltel – Euskadi at 15
  • 10. Bauke Mollema Rabobank at 17