By Nick Zaccardi
Tour de France rider Mark Cavendish was pelted with urine by a spectator on Wednesday during his Stage 11 time trial, the manager of his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team said.
Team manager Patrick Lefevere believed the incident was a response to a crash that happened on Tuesday, when Cavendish collided with Dutch rider Tom Veelers near the finish line of Stage 10 as both riders tried to catch eventual stage winner Marcel Kittel. The wreck sent Veelers tumbling, but Cavendish was cleared of any blame by race organizers. Veelers later called for Cavendish to be ejected from the race.
Lefevere, who said he had not spoken with Cavendish after Wednesday's incident, said that the rider was upset, but not angry. Cavendish told the BBC that he initially thought the liquid was water, but once he tasted it, he knew it was urine.
"We are happy that we don't have the same problems like some in football who have the hooligans, but in other ways, cyclists are very touchable and you cannot avoid that 100,000 to 200,0000 people from start to finish," Lefevere said. "Some people have a bad behavior."
Cavendish's Omega Pharma-Quick Step teammate Jerome Pineau responded to Wednesday's events via Twitter: “Yesterday I was so proud about the support but today I am ashamed. Ashamed when my friend Mark Cavendish tells me he’s been whistled and even sprayed with urine on the course. It’s scandalous.”
After the wreck on Tuesday, Cavendish tweeted that he had “just seen the sprint. I believe I didn’t move line. I’m actually coming past Veelers & we touch elbows when he moves. Anyway, hope he’s OK.”
Cavendish finished the Stage 11 time trial with a time of exactly 42 minutes. He has won 24 stages over six Tours, including the fifth stage this year.