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.
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.