Friday, July 16, 2010

Le Tour - Stage 11 - Rest day on wheels ends in head banging and expulsion. Harsh but fair?

First time I saw the sprint I thought Renshaw had gone a bit overboard. It happens in a sprint, though. Things happen fast, you protect your line and hold your ground. I rewound the tape (OK, it was on a HDD but you know what I mean) and watched it a few times. Dean provoked it, possibly - he certainly had an elbow out, but whether that was to instigate and intimidate or to fend off Renshaw I can't be sure. Either way the two of them were veering towards the barriers, or the road narrowed - again I can't say; but Renshaw seemed justified in holding his line and ensuring that he didn't hit the barriers. Of course he was also ensuring that he left a gap for Cavendish. I'm not sure what was the more important to him, only he would know that. Whether that justifies repeated headbutts I'm not so sure. Whilst all of this is going on Lampre looks to go for it, and simultaneously Cav comes off Renshaw and dives through the gap.

Now it gets really interesting as Farrar wasn't on Dean's wheel like he probably should've been. Instead he was following Cav. At that point Renshaw realised that Cav had gone - I think it surprised him as he seemed to be preparing to sprint himself and launch Cav a bit further on - but now he needed to sprint to take points off Hushovd. So he naturally chased Cav's wheel to the left, as you would. You see a wheel and you grab it. But in so doing he impeded Farrar. Now in some sports that could be seen as a foul, but was it intentional? Did he know Tyler was coming? The more I looked at it the less convinced I was that the intention was to block Tyler Farrar. Whilst it's just a racing incident it was probably within the last 200m and thus an illegal change of line... in any case it looked bad to the judges. 

So 2 strikes against Renshaw, really - headbutting to possibly protect Cav's gap, and then impeding Farrar, intentionally or not. Still I didn't think "exclusion from tour", rather "fine and loss of points". Oh well, I can see both sides... but it does make things more interesting again, doesn't it? (I hope the race judges didn't have that thought, too.)

Renshaw Kicked Out Of Tour De France |
Renshaw was told that he had been disqualified by Cyclingnews reporter Jean Francois Quenet. His immediate reaction was: "I can't be out of the Tour de France if Barredo and Costa only got a fine a few days ago."

"I'm extremely disappointed," he continued. "I'm extremely harshly done by the decision of the jury. I've never had anything against me in the past. I've never done anything wrong. The process of this decision is abnormal. There's no possibility of appeal to this decision."
Cavendish Unhappy With Renshaw's Ejection |
From there Cavendish moved on to face the press, and it was immediately clear that his post-stage euphoria had gone. Asked straight off about the commissaire's decision to throw Renshaw out of the Tour, he responded: "I understand the commissaires have made their decision. It's against what we as a team believed happened. So we'll just have to see how the situation evolves. It's very sad."
Cavendish Unhappy With Renshaw's Ejection |
Cavendish then described his view of the final stages of the run into Bourg-lès-Valence. "We came around the last corner in a good position. Bernie [Eisel] went to lead out and Mark was on his wheel, and Julian Dean came around on the right and put his elbow from the left over Mark's right. Mark used his head to get away. There's a risk when your elbow's that close that you could end up in a tangle and that puts everybody behind in danger. And Mark gave us a bit of space, which kept everybody behind upright."
Vaughters Says Renshaw Disqualification Was Fair |
"I saw the video and I think it's a fair decision,' Vaughters told Cyclingnews.

"I would never want to see one of our riders doing that. I understand that sprints are very hotly contested and I understand it's a long hot, hard Tour but you can't do that."

Vaughters was angry how Renshaw first head-butted Dean and then also clashed with Farrar.

"It's the head-butting and then he put Tyler into the barriers after. I understand it's intense competition but we all have to respect the rules," he said.
Farrar And Dean Furious With Renshaw Over Tour Sprint |
Renshaw, leading Cavendish into the final few hundred metres of the stage was seen head-butting Garmin-Transitions lead-out man Julian Dean and then squeezing Dean's charge Tyler Farrar into the barriers, impeding his sprint.

The American rider was furious after crossing the line, even though he was able to recover and sprint on to third place. "That wasn't a good sprint from Renshaw; that wasn't normal. Renshaw shouldn't be riding like that. It's so dangerous. I almost crashed," Farrar said.