Mark Cavendish
Mark Cavendish

Tour De France star Mark Cavendish felt the force of French anger when he was "sprayed with urine" during the race.

Manxman Cavendish initially thought the liquid was water when he was pelted with it during the time trial on stage 11.

But he got a nasty surprise after realising how warm it was.

Principle of the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team for which Cavendish rides, Patrick Lefevere, said: "I regret this. I always felt that cycling fans were gentlemen, enthusiastic people.

"Mark is sad. He is not upset - just sad. I cannot blame anyone. There are 100,000 or 200,000 people on the road, and one person decided to do this."

Cavendish was staying tight-lipped after the incident by refusing to answer questions.

As a result, it was left to Cavendish's French team-mate to give the cyclists' view of the urine incident - the cause of which is unknown.

Jerome Pineau used Twitter to lambast his countrymen.

"Yesterday I was so proud to see the support at the race but today I am ashamed," he ranted at followers on the social networking website.

"Ashamed when my friend @MarkCavendish tells me he has been whistled and even sprayed with urine on the course. It is scandalous."

Speculation on why it happened centred on a scrape Cavendish had with a fellow rider during the previous stage. He was deprived of his chance to win by a collision with Tom Veelers near the finish line.

Officials cleared Cavendish of blame, but he refused to bow to Veelers' demand for a personal apology. That led to spectators at Avranches booing him, according to reports.

Cavendish's silence on the urine-soaking issue may also have something to do with a high-profile bust-up he had a TV reporter just 24 hours earlier.

Cavendish got so irate with one reporter's line of questioning that he grabbed the microphone the irksome American had shoved under his nose, then confiscated it by placing it out of the reporter's reach behind a curtain.