‘Missile’ wins again
Cavendish takes third Tour stage
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.