Upon Further Review

If the camera never lies, how come we can’t always believe it? Take, for example, SaganGate.

According to the official Tour de France narrative, on July 4, a couple of hundred meters from the finish line of Stage 4, green jersey favorite Peter Sagan, of Slovakia, elbowed sprinter Mark Cavendish, of Great Britain, slamming Cavendish into a roadside barrier. Cavendish broke his shoulder and cut his hand, forcing him to pull out of the race. Sagan was subsequently disqualified by the UCI, cycling’s governing body, after a closed-door meeting that reportedly included a video review.

But cycling fans conducted their own frame-by-frame analysis, and what they saw seemed to tell a different story. Wind the tape back a few frames, and Cavendish appears to make the first contact, leaning into Sagan. Zoom in on the apparent elbow strike itself, and Sagan seems to be lifting his arm out of the way of the gear shifter on Cavendish’s handlebar. By that point Cavendish’s bike already appears to be falling sideways. The video casts doubt on whether Sagan did anything wrong and whether the UCI should have ruled against him.

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