The drama of the stage came on the final sprint, when Renshaw -- the lead-out man for Cavendish on the HTC Columbia team -- head-butted Julian Dean of Garmin-Transitions three times in an apparent bid to push him out of the way. Dean is the lead-out man for U.S. sprinter Tyler Farrar, who then appeared to be cut off by Renshaw in the closing meters.
"This is cycling, it's not wrestling," said course director Jean-Francois Pescheux, adding that the violation was "flagrant" and removing Renshaw from the race was necessary. "We've only seen the pictures once, but his actions are plain for all to see. They were blatant. This is a bike race, not a gladiator's arena. There are rules to respect."
Cavendish rushed to the defense of Renshaw, claiming Dean attempted to elbow him. "Mark Renshaw fought to prevent the lane from being closed on him," Cavendish said through a translator on French TV. "He didn't want to be blocked."
Well, we happened to catch this on the replay last night and it was totally obvious Renshaw was headbutting. However, we think the punishment is harsh. He should have been given a time penalty and maybe a fine. Expulsion is extreme.
Major freaking kudos to Mark "The Missile" Cavendish for another stage win! It's bitter sweet and he is super-upset about his teammate's expulsion. I mean Renshaw definitely had Cavendish's back.
What do you think? Bad enough to get kicked out?