The Tour commissars decided enough was enough. Mark Renshaw has been disqualified from the Tour de France, becoming the first rider to leave the race in eight years (excepting doping-related exclusions.) In the final kilometer, Julian Dean tried to bring his sprinter Tyler Farrar up to the front, and moved into Renshaw's space. Renshaw reacted by head-butting Dean three times in an effort to push Dean off his line. You just don't see that every day. Then, as Cavendish bounded up the road to stage victory, Renshaw drifted back, and slammed the door on Tyler Farrar. The hook was gradual, much less so than Bettini's move against Baden Cooke in the Giro a few years back, but it served to impede Farrar and prevent him from sprinting.
Mark Renshaw serves as lead-out to ace sprinter Mark Cavendish and Renshaw has a few tricks up his sleeve. He is best known for his ability to thread through the traffic in the final kilometer and deliver Cavendish to the final 200 meters. Today, Renshaw crossed the invisible line between aggressive riding in the final kilometer and dangerous riding. At least, that's how the commissairs saw it. Me, I expected Renshaw to get the big R for relegation, but to see him removed from the Tour came as quite a surprise.
Reportedly, Renshaw will appeal his disqualification. No word yet on the outcome of his appeal.
Update Below the fold, comments from Renshaw.
"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."