Reuters - Sun, 04 Jul 21:14:00 2010
British sprinter Mark Cavendish is getting used to tasting the dirt at the side of the road after crashing in the Tour de France first stage on Sunday.
Cavendish, who won six stages in last year's Tour, came to grief 2.5 kms from the finish as he missed a sharp turn to the right.
"It's bike racing. I don't know what happened there. I'm okay," Cavendish, who was looking to win early in a Tour set to feature just a few sprints, said.
The last time the race was in Belgium, back in 2007, Cavendish also crashed before the bunch sprint.
It has been a rocky year for Cavendish.
Last month, he pulled out of the Tour of Switzerland after crashing heavily following a collision with German Heinrich Haussler close to the finish.
Cavendish was also withdrawn from the Tour de Romandie by his team after he made a two finger salute when crossing the line as a winner in Fribourg.
Last year, Cavendish was beaming with confidence when he started the Tour, having won 15 times in the first half of 2009.
He has not been so successful this season, with three victories under his belt.
"He knows he gets his chances. If he feels like 'today I was good enough to win', it will not mentally really kill him," said HTC Columbia sports director Rolf Aldag.
"He will not struggle with that because he knows he's got other chances. For sure it's not nice to lose points in the green jersey. To end up with zero... but it can happen to anybody."
The green jersey for the points classification is Cavendish's main goal on the Tour this year after he missed out by a whisker to Norway's Thor Hushovd in 2009.