Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team put all riders on the front, including race leader Tony Martin, in full support of sprinter Mark Cavendish in hopes he could earn a second straight sprint victory at the 183.6km Stage 5 of Tour de Suisse on Wednesday.
Teams were doing their best to try and get in front of OPQS, but Cav was still 3rd wheel going into the final kilometer thanks to excellent work by the team. However, Cavendish drifted back as the battle for final sprint position became hectic prior to a very technical final few hundred meters.
Despite Cavendish's efforts to keep himself safe and upright in anticipation of the final sprint, an Orica-GreenEDGE rider went down on a sharp turn before the finish. Cavendish was directly behind him and had nowhere to go but over the top of the fallen rider.
The crash caused more chaos, and only a few riders could contest the sprint in front. Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) won the stage, with Peter Sagan (Cannondale) 2nd and John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) was 3rd.
Fortunately, the crash involving the British Champion appears to be without major consequences. He has some superficial skin abrasions and a bump on his head, but normally will be at the start of Stage 6.
"I should be OK, which is a good thing considering it could have been much worse given the nature of the crash," Cavendish said. "We'll see what happens tonight, but I should be there at the start. As for the crash, I can't really say how it happened from my point of view. All I know is the guys did a really good job. They kept me there, especially Mark Renshaw, in the final. It was perfect. So we went into the last kilometer with good position. But there was chaos on both sides going into the end. It was a bit of a dangerous finish. I backed off Mark's wheel a bit because I wanted to avoid a crash in the last corner. I knew a few guys would overshoot it so I stayed back a bit hoping I would miss a crash. Unfortunately I was still behind the crash of a complicated final. There wasn't much I could do to avoid it as far as I know. But at the end of the day, it's never good to hit the ground, but I am not as bad off as I could have been considering. So, we'll see day-by-day how I feel. I will try to recover as best as possible and be ready for tomorrow."
Tony Martin keeps the yellow jersey for yet another day, having moved to the front to help establish the leadout inside the final few kilometers.
OPQS looks next to 183.5km Stage 6, which three categorized climbs including an early Category 1 climb. Stage 5 was likely the final opportunity for a bunch sprint.