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HTC-Colombia punish Mark Cavendish for V-sign gesture

Cavendish celebrates with a defiant gesture
Cavendish celebrated with a defiant gesture

HTC-Colombia have withdrawn Mark Cavendish from the Tour de Romandie for making an obscene gesture following his stage two victory on Thursday.

The 24-year-old British rider released a statement on Friday apologising for making a V-sign aimed at his critics as he crossed the finish line on Thursday.

"I want to publicly apologise for the gesture," Cavendish said.

However, Team Colombia decided to remove the Isle of Man rider from the race for his "inappropriate actions".

The American team released a statement after Friday's time trial - where Cavendish finished in 139th place - confirming they had withdrawn him from the race.

Cavendish was subsequently fined 6000 Swiss Francs (£3640) for "incorrect behaviour" by the race jury.

"High Road Sports agrees with the individual fine issued by the UCI commissaries today and in addition will direct payment of Cavendish's prize money from his stage win to the international charity Right To Play," read the HTC-Columbia team statement.

After his victory on Thursday, Cavendish had said: "It's to say I'm back, I've proved I have not lost my talent, contrary to what has been said and written."

Cavendish had won eight stages by this time in 2009 but has been troubled by a dental problem and flu in 2010.

"I did want to make a statement to my critics but I realise that making a rude gesture on the finish line is not the best way to do that," added Cavendish.

"I apologise to everybody watching the race and especially the kids. I am not proud of releasing the feelings in that way.

606: DEBATE
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"I hope I can redeem myself and show my feelings and passion for cycling with some exciting results in the next couple of months rather than with gestures such as the one on Thursday."

Cavendish claimed his first stage victory in six months in the Tour of Catalonia in March, but then pulled out of the race because of illness.

The Manxman had seemed near invincible in sprints last season, but in Wednesday's first stage he finished well behind the main peloton after a series of accelerations wore him out on the hilly course.

But Thursday's 171.8km stage around largely flat Swiss countryside favoured the sprinters and HTC-Columbia star Cavendish timed his break beautifully.

He took the lead with 200m to go and raced clear of Lampre's Danilo Hondo and Garmin-Transitions' Robbie Hunter in the final stretch.

"Some thought that the team and myself had lost our motivation and our form," commented Cavendish.

"I've had a bad start to the season but I knew we could get it back."

The early stages were dominated by Chad Beyer, Mikhail Ignatyev, Denis Van Winden and Alan Perez, the quartet building up a lead of nearly five minutes.

But they were reeled in about 30km from the finish by Peter Sagan and last year's winner Roman Kreuziger, before Cavendish struck late on.

Overall leader Sagan of the Liquigas-Doimo team crossed the line in fifth to maintain his lead over HTC-Columbia's Marco Pinotti.

Team Sky's British rider Ben Swift was eighth following his ninth-place finish on Wednesday.




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see also
Cavendish to miss Giro d'Italia
31 Mar 10 |  Cycling
Cavendish abandons Catalunya tour
27 Mar 10 |  Cycling
Cavendish sprints to first win
23 Mar 10 |  Cycling
Cavendish ready for 2010 season
17 Feb 10 |  Cycling
Cavendish delays start of season
22 Jan 10 |  Cycling


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