Thursday, 15 July 2010

13-Unlucky for some: Renshaw bumps and grids Cavendish to victory and himself to elimination

What should have been a textbook sprint finish in Bourg-lès-Valence ended in what race officials likened to behaviour fit for a gladiator areana. As Mark Renshaw battled his way to bring Cavendish into prime position to take his 3rd victory of the Tour, it seemed he took the notion rather too literally. In the mêlée of the sprint, Renshaw reacted to elbowing from Dean, Garmin-Transitions lead out man for sprinter Tyler Farrar, by using his head to remain upright. Knowing that he couldn't remove his hand from the handlebars, Renshaw thought he had no choice, but he didn't know that it would lead to his eviction from the Tour.

As Cavendish stood on the podium for the 13th time, overtaking Erik Zabel's, Mario Cipollini's and Robbie McEwen's tally of 12 career stage wins, the race director Jean-Francois Pescheux stated:

"Renshaw is out. We watched the film once and it was blatant. He head-butted Dean like in a keirin race," said the Frenchman. "This is a bike race, not a gladiator's arena. Everybody could have ended up on their backs."

Cavendish was later informed of the decision by journalists. The euphoria of the podium visibly disolving from his face, the young Manxman was clearly upset. "Its always us. Two guys were fighting the other day." With Renshaw gone, it may now be difficult for Cavendish to have any true hope of obtaining the Maillot Vert, which changed hands today as Petacchi, who finished second to Cavendish took enough points to put him firmly ahead of Hushovd in the points competition. Meanwhile there were no changes for the other jersey wearers.

A relaxed day in the peloton, current Maillot Jaune, Andy Schleck of Saxo Bank was seen talking amicably to rival and defending Maillot Jaune of the 2009 Tour de France, Alberto Contador. With a lighter mood in the bunch than the last four arduous days have seen, the riders rolled into Bourg-lès-Valence at an average speed of around 39km; far less than had been estimated for the stage. In the heat of the summer, and with another climb in store tomorrow, risk taking was off the agenda, with the GC contendors wanting to pace themselves before they head into the Pyrenees.

Although tomorrows route into Mende is designated a plain stage, the day finishes with the Laurent Jalabert climb, with its 10% (in places) climbs which may further hurt Armstrong as he struggles to regain time lost in the Alps. Contador is sure to excel here, but will he be able to gain time over rival Luxembourg rider, Schleck?

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