Mark Cavendish causes huge crash in Olympics omnium

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Mark Cavendish will retire from cycling known as one of the greatest sprinters of all time and 2016 will, for him, probably go down as his best year.

Not only did he fulfil the longstanding dream of wearing the yellow jersey at the Tour de France in July but on Monday night he also achieved another by winning his first Olympic medal at the third time of asking.

The Manx legend collected silver in the men's omnium event at the Rio Games but his route there was not without controversy, as you are about to see.

Cavendish was well in contention for a gold medal going into the final race of the two-day event. The 40km points race sees all the riders compete over 160 laps of the 250m track. Travelling at speeds in excess of 60km/hour, it is surely one of the most dangerous in the entire Olympics. 

And several riders, including the eventual winner Elia Viviani found that out halfway through. It was a horrific crash that saw South Korean cyclist Sanghoon Park being thrust from his bike and taken away on a stretcher, but not before ploughing into Viviani and Australia's Glenn O'Shea.

The crash

And it was all Cavendish's fault or so it would seem.

"It was my fault, I should have been looking more," silver medalist Cavendish told reporters. "I hope he's all right. I apologised to Elia after he went down."

Upon a second look, fans wondered whether the former Team Sky rider took Park out on purpose. Indeed, the footage appears to show Cavendish looking straight at him before cutting across his front wheel.

Not his fault

But Cavendish had a powerful ally in gold medalist Viviani. The Italian believes Park needs to take his share of the blame despite coming off much worse.

"It's not his fault," Viviani said. "The Korean guy was halfway on his wheel to the right. Normally you stay on the wheel. Cav was in the front and changed direction so it's all normal. It's a normal crash on the track."

The crash was not to Cavendish's advantage either as his main rivals were given the chance to rest in the proceeding stoppage.

What is the Omnium?

The two-day event consists of six different events around the velodrome. The elimination race is by far the best of the lot. It sees a field of 18 whittled down to one over 36 laps. Every two laps, the last rider to cross the line is removed from the race. Chaos usually ensues.

While it's the best event for spectators, Cavendish will not have fond memories of it after being disqualified from it. He broke the rules by moving over the blue band in an attempt to overtake. That was an illegal move and saw him become the seventh man eliminated despite being one of the favourites.

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