July 16, 2010 in Sports

‘Missile’ wins again

Cavendish takes third Tour stage
Tour de France

A look at Thursday’s 11th stage:

Stage: The 114.6-mile trek from Sisteron to Bourg-les-Valence was mostly flat but featured a mid-grade, category 3 climb on the Cabre pass.

Winner: British sprinter Mark Cavendish won his third stage this Tour – and 13th in his Tour career – in 4 hours, 42 minutes, 29 seconds. Alessandro Petacchi of Italy was second and U.S. rider Tyler Farrar (Wenatchee) was third. Farrar is 168th overall.

Yellow Jersey: Andy Schleck of Luxembourg kept the yellow jersey and maintained his 41-second lead over defending champion Alberto Contador. Spanish rider Samuel Sanchez is 2:45 back in third.

Today’s stage: The 12th stage features five mid-grade climbs on a 130.8-mile course from Bourg-de-Peage to Mende.

BOURG-LES-VALENCE, France – In the frenzied and dangerous mass sprints at the Tour de France, competitors often need to keep their heads.

Mark Renshaw decided to use his.

The Australian lead-out man for sprint specialist Mark Cavendish was kicked out of the race after head-butting a rival Thursday, which cleared a path for his British teammate to win his third stage at this year’s Tour.

“This is cycling. It’s not wrestling,” said course director Jean-Francois Pescheux, who called Renshaw’s aggressive tactics “flagrant” and the punishment necessary.

“There are rules to respect,” Pescheux said.

With the sprinters’ teams barreling toward the finish at about 40 miles per hour, Renshaw rammed his head three times into the shoulder of Julian Dean of New Zealand, the lead-out man for American sprinter Tyler Farrar on Garmin-Transitions. It was an apparent bid to push Dean, who was then in the lead, out of the way during the final sprint.

After reviewing video of the finish, the race jury said Renshaw was “removed from the competition for a particularly serious case.” They also said the HTC Columbia rider was fined 200 Swiss francs (about $192) for a grave case of “irregular sprint.”

“I’m extremely disappointed and also surprised,” Renshaw said. “I never imagined I would be removed from any race, especially the Tour de France. I pride myself on being a very fair, safe and a straight-up sprinter, and never in my career have I received a fine or even a warning.”

Andy Schleck of Luxembourg retained the yellow jersey, and rode conservatively during the 114.6-mile so that he could save his energy for tough climbs in the Pyrenees during the final week.

Schleck earned the yellow jersey for a third straight day, while defending champion Alberto Contador remained 41 seconds back. His fellow Spaniard, Samuel Sanchez, is 2:45 behind in third.

Seven-time Tour champion Lance Armstrong lost time for the second straight day. He finished in 114th place, 29 seconds behind the pack, and is 17:51 behind Schleck in 32nd place overall.

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