Mark Cavendish has appealed to social media users to stop sending "vile and threatening" comments to him and to his family after the horror smash on Tuesday which forced him to pull out of the Tour de France and led to the hugely controversial disqualification of double world champion Peter Sagan.
Speaking in a video which he posted on Twitter as he flew home from France yesterday, Cavendish said he was "paying now as a 32-year-old for the petulant attitude I had as a kid".
But he added that was no reason to take it out on his wife or children. "Vile and threatening comments on social media to myself and my family isn't deserved and I ask you all to respect that and please don't send vile and abusive language to myself and my family."
Initially there was a lot of sympathy for the Briton, with Sagan generally felt to be at fault. However, as tensions rose and Sagan's sentence went from a 30-second time penalty to disqualification from the race altogether, a backlash began.
Earlier, Cavendish had put a brave face on his dramatic exit from the Tour. Speaking to journalists outside the Dimension Data team bus before yesterday's stage from Vittel to La Planche des Belles Filles, Cavendish said he harboured no ill will towards his friend Sagan, praised the Slovakian for being "a great world champion and great for the sport", and even managed to joke that at one stage he thought he might "bleed to death" following his crash, likening the scene of the accident to a horror movie.
Cavendish also had a serious message, saying he felt the commissaires had made a "courageous" decision to throw Sagan off the Tour, one which could change sprinting forever and make it safer for everyone.
"It takes a lot of courage, a lot of balls, to eliminate the world champion from the Tour de France, and I commend the jury."