2010 Tour de France – Stage 11 Wrap-Up

2010 Tour de France - Mark Cavendish Wins Stage 11

Fotoreporter Sirotti

Mark Renshaw got a bit cheeky today, butting heads (literally) with Julian Dean and then slamming the door on Tyler Farrar in the final dash to the finish line in Bourg-les-Valence.  Renshaw clearly veered from his line to cut-off Farrar and was sent home from the Tour for his actions—not that it mattered though, as no one was going to get Cavendish.

Credit a visibly shaken Farrar for not taking the bait in his post-race interview; while he clearly blamed Renshaw for his actions, he refused to say it was done on purpose.  As for Renshaw, he seemed to admit that what he had done was a bit dangerous, without going so far as to apologize for it.

Unfortunately for Renshaw, in the eyes of the UCI commissaries, Renshaw’s actions were enough to warrant to dismissal.  One official compared his action to that of a gladiator, calling his behavior “deplorable”.  But for a rider who has failed to register the slightest blip on the radar of dangerous sprinters or lead-out men, the severity of the punishment has to be considered a bit of surprise.  A time penalty?  Certainly.  A fine? Definitely.  But banishment?  Too much.

Ultimately, Renshaw’s punishment begs an interesting question: is he paying for Cavendish’s past sins?  And who will benefit the most now that he’s gone?

Perhaps the final word is best left to Michael Rogers.

Here’s what else we noticed:

1. With the win, Cavendish has reasserted himself as the fastest sprinter in the world.  It’s now time to forget any doubts we had earlier in the year—Cav’s the best, hands-down.  And he’s now creeping-up the green jersey classification—with a few more wins he could take the jersey by Paris.

2010 Tour de France - Petacchi Takes Green Jersey After Stage 11

Fotoreporter Sirotti

2. As for Alessandro Petacchi, his second place today is enough to vault him over Thor Hushovd and into the green jersey.  Petacchi’s clearly the biggest sprint surprise of this year’s race, taking two stages and contending in several more.  Now he says he wants the green jersey in Paris.  I’m not counting him out anymore.

3. And Thor?  Well, he’s starting to seem out-classed by the rest of the field sprinters.  While his team is certainly a rung below those of the other green jersey contenders, there are others who are scoring points with less than ideal support.  I think we might be seeing the final phase of Thor’s transition from field sprinter to classics hard man.  Need further proof?  Look no further than his win in Stage 3.

4. Does anyone else think Jonathan Vaughters is sweating bullets right now (and not because of the heat wave currently suffocating France)?  Looking over the rest of the parcours, Garmin has two more chances to get Tyler Farrar across the line first—and one of those is the super-competitive stage finishing on the Champs-Elysées.  Yes, Garmin has dealt with a lot of bad luck in this year’s race, losing several riders to broken bones.  But regardless, should Garmin end-up finishing three Tours without a stage win, Vaughters will have a lot of explaining to do.  And don’t expect to Christophe Le Mevel to help.

5. And for the historians out there, here are two videos from the 1997 Tour de France in which there were not one, but two stages that ended with disqualifications—just in case you never saw them: Stage 6 and Stage 19.

Have a great day—and share your comments below.

About Whit

My experiences might easily fit many cycling fans' definitions of “living the dream.” Since getting hooked on the sport watching Lance Armstrong win the 1993 U.S. Pro Championship, I've raced as an amateur on Belgian cobbles, traveled Europe to help build a European pro team, and piloted that team from Malaysia to Mont Ventoux. As a former assistant director sportif with Mercury-Viatel, I've also seen the less dreamy side of the sport – the side rife with broken contracts, infighting, and positive dope tests. These days, I live with my lovely wife in Pennsylvania and share my experiences and views on the sport at Bicycling Magazine, the Embrocation Cycling Journal, and at my own site, Pavé.
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15 Responses to 2010 Tour de France – Stage 11 Wrap-Up

  1. Touriste-Routier says:

    I think there were 2 different but related instances here:

    1) Renshaw headbutting Dean
    2) Renshaw hooking Farrar

    To me it didn’t look like either Renshaw or Dean severely deviated from their lines, but it appeared like Dean put his elbow in front of Renshaw (thus Dean must have moved over on him, at least slightly), and Renshaw pushed Dean off with his head. This also opened room for Cav to come off the barricades. This didn’t seem to irregular enough to materially change the sprint nor warrant getting tossed or relegated.

    But Renshaw clearly looked back at Farrar as he drifted towards the barricades, taking Farrar with him. This seemed much more flagrant, irregular, and purposeful. Still tossing him seems to be going too far.

  2. Michael says:

    No sympathy from me here for Renshaw, you do the crime you do the time. I don’t care how squeaky clean he may have been perceived to be prior to this one, if he would have succeeded in pushing Farrar into the barriers as he was clearly, premeditatively trying to do he could have ended the man’s career or life at 70+ kph.

    Fully deserved as far as I am concerned. It will be interesting to see how Cav set’s himself up now, as no one else on that squad has the fast twitch muscle fibre necessary to rail it like Renshaw does.

    It would make for very interesting comparisons in speed if Cav is coming off Farrar’s (or anyone else’s) wheel.

  3. cthulhu says:

    Except for yesterday’s stage there is a lot going on each day the Le Tour, well, the French being pretty passive and non-agressive on their national holiday maybe. Good for us. A lot to talk about.
    So to get to the point:
    1. Most probably Cav had made it to the line first anyway but Farrar was clearly cut and taken out of competition (for 2nd)
    2. Dean started it by cutting Renshaw and using his ellbow
    3. While the first headbutt might be a reflex, the second one was clearly intentional and needs to get penalised, it was an illegal move to open room and of course dangerous. After all these crashes and a lot of criticism from the riders that is calling for some drastic punishment.
    4. How do you punish anybody who doesn’t care how much time or points he loses since all that matters to him is that he delivers his package(Cav) to the line first. Even a fine would be not enough because he fine him 500 or even 1000 Euro, the stage victory brings in around 10k Euro. Even if the following hook wasn’t intentional if the punishment wouldn’t be very strict and drastic it might find copy cats: leave your captain clean while the leadout or train riders block the competition in an unfair way and ensuring the victory this way. That would be very foul play and very unsportsmanlike and must be eliminated even before the idea gets around. See last year as Cav blocked Thor. That penalty really did hurt, it cost him the green jersey and a lot of money. A similar penalty for Renshaw wouldn’t have hurt HTC a bit.
    Though I believe without the headbutting the penalty wouldn’t and maybe couldn’t have been that hard, because the jury would been missing an unquestionable reason.
    5. While hitting somebody with one’s front wheel is absolutely not ok, there is a difference. That fight happened out of competition. While as a person of public interest you have to watch your public behaviour even more than the average Joe, e.g. being watched by huge crowds, being a role model, and, and, and…., and they clearly failed there, that action was isolated and only made them look bad and not the Tour, while Renshaw’s action might have made a negative impact on the whole Tour. Still 300 Euro fine each might be a bit too little.

    After all that said, I really did not want to be in the jury’s position because the degree of the punishment was really hard to measure correctly. At least one party will be pissed anyway. But I personally think it was the right decision because it is the only way, I can think off at the moment, to really punish HTC. Though Renshaw has my sympathy for being kicked out. Though I believe Dean should have gotten some small punishment aswell, there a fine might have worked.

  4. Maury says:

    The damning evidence (from the overhead shot of the finish) is when Renshaw seemingly glances back and to the left, right at Farrar, and then pushes in to the barriers. That, to me, is brazenly unsportsmanlike. I know this sort of thing “happens all the time” in bunch finishes, but that does not make it OK. Clean racing applies to more than doping.

  5. Joe says:

    (A) I think Renshaw’s head butting, was far too excessive.

    (B)Renshaw’s cutting off of Farrar, probably was not intentional -at those speeds you can’t tell who is who, you’re just trying to avoid a collision.

    (C) Is it just me or has the sprinting peleton become a lot more aggressive in the last year.

    I’m torn on the action the UCI took here. On one hand I think the aggressive nature of sprinting is becoming more and more unsportsmanlike. Indirectly I blame HTC, because they are so effective at leading out Cavendish, and he’s so consistent at sprinting, they’re winning every race. Other teams are trying to be competitive, but there is no way for a lone sprinter, or 3 man train to compete with HTC’s massive lead-out. So rather Lampre, Cervelo, Garmin, et al, place more guys in the lead-out train, they’re trying to break-up the HTC train, and the only way they’ve been able to accomplish this is through what Phil and Paul like to call Argy Bargy, but clearly continues to escalate stage by stage.

    On the other hand though, this really doesn’t appear to be a standard action from Renshaw so not sure banishing him was fair.

    I think I would have been pleased to see a 5000 – 10,000 euro fine.

    • Whit says:

      Agreed, Joe. This wasn’t indicative of Renshaw’s nature–seemed a bit out of character for him. As for aggressive sprinting, I think the peloton has caught-up to HTC a bit–at least in their own minds. They might have smelled blood in the water following Cavendish’s lackluster build-up. Of course, Cavendish has silenced his doubters–like me–with his 3 wins.

      As for the UCI, I think a stiff fine, a relegation, and a warning would have been good. What about something more creative like once the race hits 3km to go, Renshaw’s not allowed to participate in the sprint?

  6. kg says:

    Garmin always seems to have “bad luck”, maybe it’s bad management. Vaughters is too full of himself to focus on racing smart.

    • Whit says:

      KG, I see what you mean. But instead of full of himself, I think Vaughters is too caught-up in his “philosophy” it obscures his judgment in picking talent. He gets it right sometimes–like Tyler Farrar–but wrong more often than not. At some point, he might have to take a risk with a rider or two that he hasn’t known since he (the rider) was a junior. I’d like to see JV stop signing aging, mid-grade talent and take a stab at a younger, bigger name. Rumor today is that he’s talking to Damiano Cunego. That would be an interesting move.


  7. RED says:

    Disgusted by Mark Renshaw’s actions – what a tosser!

    He’d have got what he deserved if someone gave him a thumping post-race…

  8. cthulhu says:

    Rewatched the sprint. The hook was completely intentional, he looks back and sees Farrar, and he does know who it is. Lets face it, they know who is who. There is like 20 riders max up front in the bunch sprint and after seeing Dean fade to his right the only Garmin rider left could be Farrar.
    But I say again, Dean had to be punished aswell. Anybody caught his headbutt against the AG2R rider after the final bend?

    • Whit says:

      Agreed, Cthulhu! what’s good for the goose is good for the gander…or something. I hope that Dean was at least fined for his actions. And while it happened off-the-bike and not in a sprint, I wonder what was ever handed down to Barredo and Rui Costa for their fight earlier in the race?

      And what about Cadel in the Giro, was he fined?

      Seems like we have some double standards here…all goes to reinforce the fact that this is more about Cavendish than Renshaw.


  9. cs124 says:

    Clearly none of you are sprinters. The headbutts look spectacular but are far safer than fending off an encroaching rider with you elbows, shoulders or hands.

    As for shutting the door on Farrar, yes, cheeky but no way was it a hanging offence. If you watch the replay in real time (not slooooow mo) you’ll see Renshaw glances to his left before moving over but Farrar was a length behind at this time. I doubt he even saw Farrar approaching.

    The protests smell of desperation from an underperforming Garmin and their frustrated fans.

    • Whit says:

      Great points, CS124! Head-butting is a much safer way to “assert” than shoulders, elbows, or taking your hands of the bars. Remember Theo Bos in the Tour of Turkey last year?

      Looking back at the video in “real time” it’s entirely possible that Renshaw looked back and though he had enough of a gap to sneak in and protect Cavendish’s wheel. The gaps often look smaller on TV than they are in reality.

      As for Garmin and their fans, there’s clearly a hint of desperation right now. They’re running out of chances in this year’s Tour.


  10. Big Mikey says:

    I think cthulhu got it exactly right regarding the punishment. A fine/relegation wouldn’t impact Renshaw at all, so they had to take more serious action.

    Renshaw was not fending off Dean; if he was, he would have leaned into him. Repeatedly striking him with his helmet was over and above defending his line.

    That said, Dean was clearly trying to disrupt the Cav leadout, so while some response from Renshaw was necessary, the helmet bashing was excessive.

    And there is absolutely no way that Renshaw didn’t know that that was Farrar coming up. At that point in the finish, with only a handful of riders at the front, how many Garmin riders would be coming around Renshaw? And leadout men are supposed to go straight when their pull is finished.

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