Mark Cavendish was brought down by a bottle discarded by another rider just 15km from the finish of the Belgian semi-classic, Dwars door Vlaanderen.
The race was won in emphatic style by Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) who rode away from a breakaway group including his teammate, Sylvain Chavenel.
Terpstra and his breakaway group had already moved clear of the peloton in which Cavendish was riding. The Manxman recovered to finish in a bunch more than three minutes behind the Dutchman.
An angry Cavendish took to Twitter to hit out at the action that caused him to crash.
“Said it before: EVERYONE involved in a bike race should take a written & practical test to get licence. Bottle that crashed me was #Katusha,” he said.
Cavendish’s directeur sportif, Steven De Jong, was more philosophical.
“Unfortunately Cav had a crash but that can happen in any race. His shoulder is hurting but that’s from the impact itself and he looks to be okay. We’ll make absolutely sure that’s still the case tomorrow morning,” he said.
Cavendish later ‘tweeted’ to extend his congratulations to Omega Pharma-QuickStep, whom he described as ‘flying’.
Terpstra finished some 47 seconds ahead of Chavanel in an impressively dominant performance.
“For me, it’s the best victory ever together with the 2010 national road championship,” Terpstra said.
“Today I had super strong legs. Going solo was something I have done in the past, so I know it is possible to finish in a great solo like today. The road to victory was through my Specialized. I really rode a great solo in the final kilometers thanks to my perfect bike. It was a good moment for me before the big classics. Now I want to stay prepared for the next races where I will take part.”
Dwars door Vlaanderen
1) Niki Terpstra (NED) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep – 4:29:36
2) Sylvain Chavanel (FRA) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep + 47”
3) Koen De Kort (NED) – Project 1t4i
4) Jan Ghyselinck (BEL) – Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne + 51”
5) Alexandre Pichot (FRA) – Team Europcar + 53”
6) Filippo Pozzato (ITA) – Farnese Vini – Selle Italia + 1.00
7) Sep Vanmarcke (BEL) – Garmin-Cervelo + 1.05
8) Maarten Wynants (BEL) – Rabobank Cycling Team + 1.16
9) Lloyd Mondory (FRA) – AG2R La Mondiale
10) Jens Keukeleire (BEL) – GreenEDGE