Pavé would like to thank Laekhouse for supporting our coverage of the 2011 Giro d’Italia.
Mark Cavendish finds himself enmeshed in scandal more often than other racers, it seems. He felt unfairly penalized when his teammate, Mark Renshaw, was ejected from the Tour de France last year for headbutting Garmin’s leadout man, Julian Dean. He felt unfairly demonized when the peloton reacted against him for crashing into Henrich Haussler during a spring in last year’s Tour de Suisse (the injury took a just-returned Haussler out for the rest of the season). On Stage 2 of this year’s Giro, Cav reacted against Alessandro Petacchi’s sprinting, claiming that he himself would have been relegated had he sprinted like Ale-Jet did, and calling for the rules to be enforced fairly.
The latest scandal involves rumor that he hitched a ride on his team car up Mt Etna, keeping his legs fresh while sprint rival Alessandro Petacchi was pounding away at the front of the peloton. If it’s true, it paid off – he blew Petacchi out of the water the following stage. It should be noted that getting modest assistance is part of bike racing – returning riders to the bunch after a flat, a mechanical, or a crash is quite common and doesn’t render assistance that makes a difference in a race. The “sticky bottle” is a common form of food and velocity support even to riders in breakaways, though commisars doubtless keep a closer eye on them. Getting towed up a mountain and finishing within the time cut-off, when other sprinters were unable to do so and were thus removed from the Giro, however, is a much more significant breah of the rule and the spirit.
Reports of Cav’s free ride up Mt Etna are just rumors – thus far there appears to be no photo or video proof of it. Are rivals sullying his image?
And so, discuss: is Cavendish regularly discussed in unflattering terms because of occasions where his mouth is quicker on the draw than his brain? Or is he unfairly penalized because of his sprint dominance?