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Page last updated at 16:36 GMT, Thursday, 15 July 2010 17:36 UK

Mark Cavendish's team-mate Mark Renshaw disqualified

Tour de France 2010
Start: 3 July, Rotterdam Finish: 25 July, Paris
Coverage: Listen to the final hour of every stage on the BBC Sport website (UK only), with selected stages on BBC 5 live sports extra ; Watch live on Eurosport and ITV4; Live text commentary each day on BBC Sport website

Mark Renshaw and Mark Cavendish
Renshaw, left, is widely regarded as the world's best leadout man

Mark Renshaw has been expelled from the Tour de France after helping his HTC-Columbia team-mate Mark Cavendish to victory on stage 11 by using his head.

The Australian was seen to headbutt rival leadout man Julian Dean of Team Garmin-Transitions three times in a sprint finish in Bourg-les-Valence.

Renshaw claimed he was trying to hold his line and "stay upright".

Regarded as as the world's best leadout man, his loss is a huge blow to Cavendish's hopes of more stage wins.

And, by extension, the Briton's chances of winning the points classification green jersey are also likely to suffer.

"Renshaw was declassified immediately but we have decided to also throw him off the race," announced Tour technical director Jean-Francois Pescheux.

"We've only seen the pictures once, but his actions are plain for all to see. This is a bike race, not a gladiator's arena."

Renshaw was adamant, however, that he was forced into the aggressive maneouvres to avoid a collision.


"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," read a statement released by the 27-year-old's team.

It continued: "Julian came hard in on my position with his elbows. I needed to use my head to retain balance or there would have been a crash.

"If I had used my elbows when Julian brought his elbow on top of mine we would also have crashed. The object was to hold my line and stay upright.

"I hadn't started the sprint yet. We were still at 375m to go. After that Cavendish had to start his sprint early and I was also ready to finish off the sprint as I still had a lot left in my legs.

"It would have been good to try to take some more points. I only saw open space on my left. I had no idea Tyler Farrar was there. By no means would I ever put any of my fellow riders in danger."

Briton Cavendish emerged from the disruption to win the 184.5-km stage ahead of Italian Alessandro Petacchi and American Farrar, whose team-mate Dean was the target of Renshaw's aggression.

And, afterwards, Cavendish defended Renshaw, who played a crucial role in the Manx rider's six stage wins on last year's race.

"I was right behind it... I think Mark did a great job of giving himself and the rest of the guys space, it was the only way to keep Julian's elbow away from getting over his," said Manxman Cavendish, who claimed 35 points for the win to move fourth in the green jersey race on 132 points overall.

"Mark's not dangerous in my view, he's an incredibly good bike handler and clever bike rider, and I'm really disappointed with the decision."

Not surprisingly, Dean had a different view on the incident.

"All the other [HTC-Columbia] guys were fine, it was just Renshaw's behaviour that was inappropriate," he said.

"I jumped my front wheel in Cav's wheel. I went past Renshaw and tried to keep the speed high and while I was coming out of Renshaw, he didn't seem to like it too much.

"I didn't make any movement at all. Next thing I felt like he was leaning on me and hitting me with his head.

"And then he carried on afterwards and came across on Tyler's line and stopped Tyler from possibly winning the stage. He shouldn't have done that. It's not appropriate.

"It's dangerous behaviour and if there had been a crash there it would have caused some guys some serious damage."

With officials likely to rebuff any appeal from HTC-Columbia, Cavendish's green jersey hopes look bleak, even though he gained ground on Thursday.

Lampre rider Petacchi tops the points table on 161 points after displacing Thor Hushovd (157) into second; Robbie McEwan is third with 138 while Cavendish is a further six points back.

The Tour resumes on Friday with a rolling 210.5km ride from Bourg-Peage to Mende, which features the steep 3km 'Jalabert' climb at the finish.

For full results visit the official Tour de France site


Speaking in 2007, Mark Cavendish, Roger Hammond and Robbie Hunter explain the role of the sprinter

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see also
Cavendish takes controversial win
15 Jul 10 |  Cycling
Tour de France Q&A
12 Jul 10 |  Cycling
Cavendish roars back to win stage
08 Jul 10 |  Cycling

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