Skip to main content

Cavendish sprayed with urine by angry fans at Tour de France

July 10, 2013 -- Updated 1805 GMT (0205 HKT)
British cyclist Mark Cavendish had urine thrown at him during the 11th stage of the Tour de France.
British cyclist Mark Cavendish had urine thrown at him during the 11th stage of the Tour de France.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mark Cavendish has urine thrown at him during 11th stage of the Tour de France
  • Incident comes day after collision with Tom Veelers
  • Chris Froome retains yellow jersey and extends lead to three minutes 25 seconds
  • Germany's Tony Martin won the 33 kilometer time trial

(CNN) -- The Tour de France remains one of the few prestigious events where spectators can almost reach out and touch the riders -- or throw urine on them as Mark Cavendish found out Wednesday.

The British rider, who was absolved of any wrongdoing following a collision with Tom Veelers just 24 hours earlier, was the target of an angry fan as he rode through the 33 kilometer individual time trial between Avranches and Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy.

Cycling fans are very much split over Cavendish -- with some unimpressed by his perceived arrogance and large ego, while others love his insatiable desire to win.

Cavendish refused to speak about the incident after being doused with urine by an irate spectator during an afternoon which he will quickly want to forget.

Cavendish downplays Armstrong impact
Cycling for a better future
How has cycling recovered?

His Omega Pharm teammate Tony Martin won the 11th stage with Chris Froome retaining the yellow jersey, but it was Cavendish who was again in the limelight.

Read: Cavendish in the clear over crash

"It is disappointing to hear about one individual like that," Froome told reporters of the incident after extending his lead to three minutes and 25 seconds.

"That's one of the beauties of our sport. Anyone can come and watch at the side of the road and enjoy the excitement and really get close to the top riders in the world.

"Mark is one of the big characters in the sport, and some people love him, some people hate him.

"But to do something disrespectful like that, that's really sad. It ruins the whole atmosphere."

While it is thought to be the first time a cyclist has been assaulted in such a way during the Tour, there have been other instances where riders have been abused.

Read: Doping past haunts centenary edition

In 1975, Eddy Merckx was punched in the kidneys during his quest to claim a sixth Tour victory, while Lance Armstrong was given bodyguards in 2004 after being subjected to death threats.

Cavendish has endured a couple of miserable days, missing out on a 25th stage win on Tuesday, while slipping 103 points adrift of green jersey leader Peter Sagan.

Read: Blocking out doping's 'white noise'

Meanwhile, Omega Pharm team manager Patrick Lefevere revealed that Cavendish was feeling 'sad' following the incident.

Becoming a Tour de France champ
Can cycling beat the cheats?
Armstrong's cycling legacy

"I regret this, I always felt that cycling fans were gentlemen, enthusiastic people," he told reporters

"Mark is sad, he's not upset, just sad. I cannot blame anyone, there are 100,000 or 200,000 people on the road, and one person decided to do this."

Read: Cycling faces watershed of credibility

On the road, Martin claimed an expected victory in the time trial after finishing 12 seconds ahead of Froome.

Martin, who had won his previous nine time trials in all competitions, finished the course with the third fastest time ever recorded on the Tour.

But the German revealed he began to worry when Froome appeared to be challenging for victory.

"To be honest, I'd almost given up hope of the stage win," he told reporters. "It was starting to look very disappointing when I saw Chris beat my times at the intermediate check.

"I nearly started to cry. I couldn't believe it. I expected that Froome might get to within 30 seconds or something like that but not beating me at the intermediates.

"Now I'm really happy and maybe it's nicer to win this way."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 1637 GMT (0037 HKT)
Photography can really pack a punch. Catch up with all the best shots from around the world with our weekly sports gallery.
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 1200 GMT (2000 HKT)
Of course not. But former Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed seems to think the removal of Michael Jackson's statue was a very "bad" idea.
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 1636 GMT (0036 HKT)
Second-tier French side Clermont Foot appoint Helena Costa -- the country's first ever professional female coach of a male team.
April 28, 2014 -- Updated 1513 GMT (2313 HKT)
San Francisco 49ers owner and co-chairman John York speaks to CNN about Michael Sam and the upcoming NFL Draft.
April 25, 2014 -- Updated 1733 GMT (0133 HKT)
The All Blacks and their fans are focused on one thing, says Dan Carter: becoming the first rugby nation to win back-to-back World Cups.
April 4, 2014 -- Updated 1308 GMT (2108 HKT)
The 2002 bomb attacks in Bali had many victims -- including a touring rugby team from Hong Kong.
Photographer Danny Lyon spent three days with Muhammad Ali in 1972 and shares his best photos and memories of the champ.
February 25, 2014 -- Updated 1254 GMT (2054 HKT)
With a growing audience boosted by the drama of ice hockey on show in Sochi at the Winter Olympics, can the sport capitalize on its popularity?
January 20, 2014 -- Updated 1125 GMT (1925 HKT)
Her paintings may sell for thousands of dollars, but she is best known for a modeling shot 50 years ago that helped launch a business empire.
January 9, 2014 -- Updated 1701 GMT (0101 HKT)
When the eye of the storm closes in most people head home -- but for these surfers it's a different story.
January 6, 2014 -- Updated 1445 GMT (2245 HKT)
Gareth Evans is a school teacher in South Africa. In 1983, he attended a "rebel tour" cricket match against the West Indies.
December 17, 2013 -- Updated 1507 GMT (2307 HKT)
In the wake of protests in his native Ukraine, heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko has turned his back on boxing to focus on his political ambitions.
August 9, 2013 -- Updated 0920 GMT (1720 HKT)
Former pole vaulter Sergei Bubka is running to be president of the International Olympic Committee.
The Olympics must use its global reach and immense popularity to help save a generation, says sporting icon Sergei Bubka.
August 7, 2013 -- Updated 1632 GMT (0032 HKT)
CNN's Fred Pleitgen exposes a history of German government-funded doping throughout the Cold War.
April 9, 2013 -- Updated 1628 GMT (0028 HKT)
A competitor crosses the erg Znaigui during the second stage of the 26rd edition of the 'Marathon des Sables', on April 4, 2011, some 300 Kilometers, South of Ouarzazate in Morocco. The marathon is considered one of the hardest in the world, with 900 participants having to walk 250 kms (150 miles) for seven days in the Moroccan Sahara.
A six-day run that covers more than 220 km through the scorching heat of the Sahara desert has been billed as the "World's toughest race."
April 10, 2013 -- Updated 1149 GMT (1949 HKT)
He plays the only sport approved by the Taliban, a game he learned as a war refugee in Pakistan.
ADVERTISEMENT