Sprint star Mark Cavendish slammed for classless act

Park Sang-hoon of South Korea, right, falls near Mark Cavendish of Britain, left, during the men's cycling omnium points race at the Rio Olympic Velodrome. Photo / AP.
Park Sang-hoon of South Korea, right, falls near Mark Cavendish of Britain, left, during the men's cycling omnium points race at the Rio Olympic Velodrome. Photo / AP.

Sprint king Mark Cavendish could have been forgiven if he'd come out and apologised for his reprehensible act - or at least claimed it was unintentional.

He did neither.

His interview with BBC television makes his display during the men's omnium final at the Rio velodrome unforgivable.

Cavendish, the man famously known as the "Manx Missile", sparked a huge controversy in the men's omnium points race when he caused a massive high-speed crash that resulted in South Korean rider Sanghoon Park being taken to hospital in an ambulance.

Cavendish, riding high around the outside of the velodrome, dropped down on the track, forcing contact between his back wheel and Park's front tyre.

Park fell heavily and was then run over by Italian Elia Viviani and Aussie Glenn O'Shea.

Both were unable to stop or divert away from Park in time.

In horrifying scenes, Park appeared unconscious on the track and did not move as medical officials rushed to his aid.

Park's in a stable condition.Source:Getty Images
Park's in a stable condition.Source:Getty Images

He was placed on a stretcher and was taken to hospital in an ambulance.

He is reportedly in a stable condition.

The race was neutralised under a yellow flag for several minutes.

As Park was being transported to hospital, Cavendish was riding to the silver medal.

The 30-time individual stage winner on the Tour de France finished behind Italian gold-medallist Elia Viviani in the six-stage event. Danish rider Lasse Norman Hansen took the bronze medal.

Cavendish did have a nervous wait as officials reportedly reviewed his crash-causing dive, but it was announced several minutes after the race that the final placings would stand and no penalty would be issued to him.

Cavendish's dive down the velodrome was brainless at best.

However the British rider's biggest sin was refusing to speak about his act or Park's scary fall in his interview after the race.

Speaking with the BBC, the 31-year-old instead spoke about how he is disappointed he did not do enough in the earlier rounds of the competition to win the gold.

"I'm happy," Cavendish said of his first Olympic medal.

"Elia was the best guy there. If you take the points I lost in the elimination I would've been right with him.

"I have got my Olympic medal. It is really nice, but gold would've finished the collection. I did a pursuit yesterday and was unhappy I didn't break the Olympic record, that's just me. People are forgetting the team we have got behind us. It is incredible how they have worked. Without those guys I wouldn't be here.

"I'm happy, I wanted gold but I got my medal, it's really nice.

"To have made it gold would have filled the collection but that's the way I am."

The BBC did not ask Cavendish about his dangerous move.

A Dutch journalist reported he confronted Cavendish about the crash before the rider walked away cursing.

Dutch reporter and former cyclist Thijs Zonneveld said Cavendish threatened to sue him.

He did eventually admit fault in the prang.

Cavendish said he apologised to Viviani immediately after the crash when they race was neutralised.

"It was my fault," he said.

"I should've looked where I was going a bit more. I hope he's all right. I apologised to Elia, who went down."

It was too little too late for some cycling commentators.

Viviani broke down in floods of tears in his parents' arms after winning the gold.

Cavendish rode a controlled points race but Viviani marked him throughout, the Briton unable to make significant inroads into the Italian's lead, which he held since winning the third discipline late on Sunday.

Hansen, whose own hopes suffered a crushing blow on Sunday when he finished last in the elimination race, started clawing his way back into contention by gaining a lap in the points race.

But he didn't have enough juice left to take crucial sprint points as Cavendish eventually settled for keeping hold of second place rather than challenging Viviani for the win.

The Italian had finished first in the elimination race, second in the flying lap and third in both the individual pursuit and 1km time-trial.

That made up for a seventh placed finish in the opening scratch race, his only real blip.

Cavendish came only seventh in the elimination and sixth in both the scratch and time-trial, leaving him with a lot of ground to make up - 16 points - in the final discipline.

Both Hansen and world champion Fernando Gaviria of Colombia threatened to make things interesting by gaining a lap in the final race, earing 20 points each.

But Viviani and Cavendish mastered the sprints - there were 16, one every 10 laps - to keep their noses in front.

Viviani won the 14th and 15th sprints, collecting five points each time, to ensure he would win, despite Cavendish's best efforts.


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