PARIS — The UCI ruled Tuesday that Peter Sagan did not intentionally elbow Mark Cavendish during a sprint finish at the Tour de France in a crash that led to the Slovak rider’s disqualification.
The governing body of cycling said in a statement that it has ended its legal dispute with the three-time world champion, a few hours before a scheduled hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Sagan was sent home from the three-week race after clashing with his British rival during the fourth stage. The incident forced Cavendish to abandon with a broken shoulder.
Sagan’s Bora-Hansgrohe team immediately appealed the race jury’s decision to allow its rider to finish the race but the request was denied by CAS.
"Having considered the materials submitted in the CAS proceedings, including video footage that was not available at the time when the race jury had disqualified Peter Sagan, the parties agreed that the crash was an unfortunate and unintentional race incident," the UCI said.
UCI president David Lappartient said lessons will be drawn from the case and wants a "support commissaire" to assist race jury members "with special video expertise" at the main events of the UCI World Tour from next season.
"The past is already forgotten. It’s all about improving our sport in the future," Sagan said. "I am happy that my case will lead to positive developments, because it is important for our sport to make fair and comprehensible decisions, even if emotions are sometimes heated up."
Sagan’s explanation for extending his right elbow into Cavendish’s path was that he was just trying to stay upright. The crash occurred about 50 metres from the end of the stage and Cavendish slammed into the barriers along the road, with two other riders plowing over the British sprint specialist, a winner of 30 Tour stages.
Cavendish said at the time his rival’s move didn’t appear malicious.
"It has always been our goal to make clear that Peter had not caused Mark Cavendish’s fall. This was Peter’s position from Day 1," Bora-Hansgrohe manager Ralph Denk said. "No one wants riders to fall or get hurt but the incident in Vittel was a race accident as can happen in the course of a sprint."