ABU DHABI (AFP) — British sprint king Mark Cavendish made an early exit from the Abu Dhabi Tour Wednesday after colliding with a race official’s car before the official start of the first stage.
Team doctor Adrian Rotunno said Cavendish was showing potential signs of a concussion and had neck pain.
“Mark sustained a concussion and a whiplash injury after his crash today. Due to the concussion, we were not willing to risk rider safety and the call was made for Mark to stop the race,” Rotunno said. “A serious neck injury has been excluded in the hospital. He currently has some concussive symptoms and neck pain, but is otherwise stable. We will monitor Mark’s condition closely going forward.”
The crash occurred in the neutral zone section of stage 1. VeloNews confirmed with the race organization that the race director’s car braked and caused the crash, in which four riders went down.
Cavendish was briefly examined by medical officials and tried to rejoin the peloton, but he abandoned a short time later and was taken to a local hospital.
The 32-year-old, who won the third stage of the Dubai Tour on February 8, was one of the headliners of the five-stage Abu Dhabi Tour, which includes three stages particularly favorable to sprinters.
Cavendish was forced to abandon the Tour de France last year after a heavy crash at the fourth stage finish line left him with a broken shoulder, triggering the disqualification of winner Peter Sagan.
Alexander Kristoff won Wednesday’s opening stage in a sprint finish, withstanding a late charge from Andrea Guardini at the end of the 189km route that started and concluded in Madinat Zayed.