Mark Cavendish might have won stage 1 at the Abu Dhabi Tour, but the big story was Owain Doull, who said his shoe was sliced through by a disc brake rotor in a crash at the finish. However, after looking carefully at some Eurosport footage of the incident, it seems unlikely that a rotor was to blame for the Sky rider’s ruined Fizik R1 shoe.
“Nothing else could cut like [that]. It’s like a knife, you know. Just cut straight through that,” Doull said. “I think it’s just [Kittel’s bike], which has disc brakes you know.”
Based on this video, it appears that Doull caused the crash, pinched against the left-side barriers. Kittel is on the Brit’s right shoulder, and is taken out shortly thereafter. You can see the German’s disc brake-equipped Specialized S-Works Venge Vias flying through the air while he slides face-first on his stomach. The disc bike lands some distance ahead of both Kittel and Doull.
There is a brief moment in which foot-on-rotor contact would have been possible. As Doull falls left, the inside of his left foot, which is where he was cut, would have needed to go under his own bike and hit the left side of Kittel’s bike, where the disc rotors are located. That doesn’t look likely based on the footage (Kittel appears to be launched forward when Doull’s own bike slides under Kittel’s bike), but stranger things have happened in high-speed crashes.
Of course, it’s impossible to say with absolute confidence what did or did not transpire in the crash, but the video evidence casts doubt on whether a disc brake rotor actually cut the shoe and Doull’s foot.