Tour de France Rider Booted from Race for Using His Head
The Tour de France is arguably the World Cup of professional bike racing and like most sports, it's not without its dramatic story lines and controversies. Just look at Lance Armstrong's history with the race as well as some others who have been bagged because of alleged doping.
Regardless, the race is one where brute strength is key to winning. However, winning also requires stamina, a good core team as well as a solid strategy, i.e. using your head.
In the case of Aussie ride Mark Renshaw, he used his head to help his teammates, but was kicked out of the race as a result.
Renshaw, who is the lead-out man for sprint specialist Mark Cavendish, was kicked out of the race after head-butting a rival yesterday, which cleared a path for his British teammate to win his third stage at this year’s Tour.
“This is cycling. It’s not wrestling,’’ course director Jean-Francois Pescheux told the Associated Press. Pescheux called Renshaw’s aggressive tactics “flagrant’’ and the punishment necessary. “There are rules to respect,’’ he said.
Andy Schleck of Luxembourg was able to keep the yellow jersey during this stretch of race that went from Sisteron to Bourg-les-Valence.
The head butt came at the finish line as the sprinters’ teams raced toward it at about 40 miles per hour. Renshaw head butted three times into the shoulder of Julian Dean of New Zealand, the lead-out man for American sprinter Tyler Farrar on Garmin-Transitions. Officials saw the move as an apparent bid to push Dean, who was then in the lead, out of the way during the final sprint.
According to the AP, after reviewing video, the race jury said Renshaw was “removed from the competition for a particularly serious case.’’ They also said the HTC Columbia rider was fined 200 Swiss francs (about $192) for a grave case of “irregular sprint.’’
“I’m extremely disappointed and also surprised," Renshaw told the Associated Press. “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."