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The Manxman had hoped to wear the yellow jersey in his mother’s home town of Harrogate after the race left Leeds on a 190.5-kilometre stage which took in the Dales.
However, Cavendish collided with Orica GreenEdge rival Simon Gerrans a little over 200 metres from the line in the Yorkshire spa town and separated the acromioclavicular (AC) joint between his right shoulder and collarbone after crashing to the floor.
He rode gingerly back to his Omega Pharma-QuickStep team bus holding his side before being taken away in an ambulance with his wife Peta Todd and children following in a team car. An MRI scan that night ended his Tour.
“I’m absolutely devastated,” said Cavendish ahead of the next day’s stage from York to Sheffield.
“We knew straight away. I normally bounce back from crashes quite well; I assessed my body yesterday and for the first time in my career I knew something was wrong.
“I held a bit of optimism that it was maybe just swelling and would go down overnight, but it’s actually worse and it’s not possible to start from a medical point of view.”
It was the first time since 2008 – when he left prematurely to prepare for the Beijing Olympics – that Cavendish had not completed the Tour.