Mark Renshaw of HTC-Columbia has launched a scathing attack at the Garmin-Transitions team after being thrown of the Tour de France yesterday for headbutting Julian Dean and moving across Tyler Farrar’s line, vowing never to speak to anyone from the team again, and claims that Farrar, who is riding with a broken wrist after his crash on Stage 2, is simply “making up the numbers.”
The Australian’s actions yesterday paved the way for team mate Cavendish to claim the sprint win on Stage 11 in Bourg-les-Valence, but immediately after the finish race officials decided to throw him out of the race.
While in the past, riders have been disqualified from individual stages following headbutting incidents – a fate that has in the past befallen Katusha’s Robbie McEwen and Cavendish’s sprint mentor, Erik Zabel – or for having been adjudged to have forced other riders towards the barriers, as happened to Cavendish himself last year, Renshaw’s exclusion from the race as a whole has clearly come as a shock to the rider.
Talking to the Tour de France website as he waited for a train at Valence station, Renshaw said he believed the punishment had been unduly harsh, although some have pointed out that as a lead out man, not a sprinter, and therefore not looking to secure points in the green jersey competition, simply being disqualified from the stage would have effectively been no punishment at all.
“It seems like everyone has analysed the footage enough to have their own opinion,” said Renshaw. “In my opinion, in no way did I deserve to be disqualified from the race.”
He continued: “In the heat of the moment, I may have committed some things wrong,” saying “obviously the point that I think did probably make an error of judgment was when I moved left,” in other words after the headbutting incident with Dean, following which he moved across Farrar’s line.
"I moved to the left to start my own sprint after Cavendish had already passed," insisted Renshaw. “At that stage, I looked and didn’t see anyone – obviously thinking that Farrar was coming on the right, and I moved left. Farrar was three lengths behind Cav. I never meant to impede his line. You’ll see that I moved away once I realised I might have impeded him but I don’t think that offence warrants getting kicked out of the Tour de France.”
Analysis of the TV pictures however suggests that Renshaw was aware of precisely where Farrar was – he looks over his shoulder as the Garmin-Transitions man came up the inside and then appeared to move across to slam the door shut, and his moving away seems to be as much a result of Farrar putting his arm out to fend off Renshaw as he sought to avoid a crash as anything else.
Nevertheless, the HTC-Columbia rider believes that it is Garmin-Transitions that are guilty of seeking to prevent Cavendish from getting into a winning position, although he maintains that he believes his team mate will prevail, saying “I think Cavendish will win regardless of whether he’s got one rider or five with him. He’s ten times the sprinter that Tyler Farrar is,” before adding "I think Farrar is just flapping around the place, making up the numbers – I can’t see him winning a sprint. The only way they could win is if they take us out. I think that’s the attitude that Garmin has."
He also reserved a stinging rebuke for New Zealander Dean, his former team mate at Credit Agricole. "It’s sad to say but Julian Dean’s sole objective yesterday seemed to be to come up and put me left into the barriers, causing me to brake and causing Cavendish to run underneath the wheel and brake also,” insisted Renshaw. “It’s sad that that is the only way they can try and win races.”
As far as the Australian is concerned, “It’s all finished now with everyone at Garmin after some of the reports I’ve read about those guys have said. I’d never wish for anyone to get sent home from the Tour de France because I know how much it means to a rider, to the team and to the sponsors. From the reports of what they’ve said – that the disqualification was justified, that my actions were intentional – I think it’s pretty harsh.”
Renshaw concluded by saying, “I won’t speak with anyone from Garmin anymore.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.