In todays’ sprinters stage at the Tour, Mark Renshaw was removed from the race after headbutting Julian Dean. That lit up Twitter like the fight earlier in the race and Lance’s pedal-clipping, tire-rolling crash. We’ve been discussing it most of the day on Twitter and Facebook. I asked Local Pro and sprinter Russell Stevenson to explain what’s going on.
“First off, all these guys are Pro’s. The are the best sprinters in the world in their best form. These guys race against one another every week so it’s not a secret who’s who and what tendencies each rider has. Mark Renshaw is not a sketchy sprinter. Today he did some pretty blatant hacking. From what I saw, Dean came up along side of Renshaw very clean. Renshaw sensed the block and decided to take a head to the guy. That’s a mistake on Renshaw’s part. 1. ) you can do that, it’s in the rule book. 2.) They were on the front line at the Tour where everyone can see. Bad call on Renshaw’s part. 3) The officials are hyper aware of sketchy riding and he defiantly was.Â ”
“I disagree that he should be booted. That’s a little harsh. Penalized yes, or a heavy fine. Booted from the Tour should be left to those who dope. What Renshaw did is very much a part of the game of sprinting. It was over the line for sure, but not as bad as I have seen in past Tours or on the track. If he had done that 4 or 5 wheels back no one would have seen it or cared. The bottom line is this: No one crashed and Cav was gone regardless. I would be pissed if I were Tyler Farrar, for sure. It can also be attriubted to that fact that Julian and Tyler were beat. Renshaw has done that exact lead out 100 times without incident. Punish him but don’t DQ him.”
I think there’s a long history here and expect that a Lou Pinella-style explosion came at the officials from the Team managers when they saw it happen. Earlier in the year, Cavs was relegated at the Tour de Suisse and the riders protested him the next day. There is a code amongst this guys yes and today we saw that get broken.
I’ve raced a handful of times with Tyler, when he was coming up, and he’s a straight up dude. You can see in this video how shaken he is.
Late today Mark Renshaw released a statement regarding the incident
“I’m extremely disappointed and also surprised at this decision. I never imagined I would be removed from any race especially the Tour de France. 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.”
“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 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.”
I’m not sure that Renshaw saw the video – you can dispute what happened and everyone is, but that was not a steadying-head move, that was a repeated butting. Richter, another local pro, summed it up on Twitter
Headbutts are 1.) not legal…unless not seen. 2.) to be used only on someone who is capable of firing one back at you. 3)supposed to be subtle.
That one does not meet Richter’s criteria or mine. Renshaw should’ve been removed from the Tour. More likely what caused the ejection was this move, when Tyler has to put his hand on Renshaw’s back to stop him from “putting him in the barriers.”
You can see it at 5:47 in this video.