Mark Cavendish. Picture: SUPPLIED
Mark Cavendish. Picture: SUPPLIED

Rome — British sprint star Mark Cavendish suffered a broken rib in a heavy crash during the opening stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico cycling race in Italy, his South African team says.

Although the 2011 world champion was prepared to race on, he is out of the week-long stage race after finishing Wednesday’s opening team time trial outside the time limit, having suffered multiple injuries in his crash.

He crossed the line with a bloodied face and was taken straight to hospital. "He came down pretty hard at around 55km/h and sustained multiple abrasions and soft-tissue injuries to his knees, hips, hands and some swelling on his face as well," said Dimension Data team doctor Jarrad van Zuydam.

"He has a fracture of the seventh rib on the right side. The fracture is nice and stable and should heal well."

Cavendish’s crash came two weeks after he suffered a concussion in a fall in the Abu Dhabi Tour. This was his first race back since then.