Britain’s Mark Cavendish, of HTC-Columbia, dominated a controversial bunch sprint to win the 11th stage of the Tour de France held over 179km between Sisteron and Bourg-Les-Valence on Thursday.
Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck, of Saxo Bank, retained the yellow jersey with his lead of 41sec on Spain’s Alberto Contador intact. Cavendish, the winner of six stages in 2009 and four in 2008, has now won three stages in this year’s race, taking his career tally to an impressive 13.
In doing so, the Isle of Man sprinter surpasses the 12-stage victory tally of several notable sprinters including German great Erik Zabel, Italian Mario Cipollini and Australian Robbie McEwen. Cavendish’s 13th victory in the race, however, will also be remembered for the controversy that led up to it.
As HTC-Columbia wound up the speed inside the final kilometre in a bid to drop rivals and deliver Cavendish to the 200 metres to go mark, his lead-out man Mark Renshaw was shown by television pictures to have tried to head-butt one of his rivals three times.
Australian Renshaw is considered one of the world’s best lead-out men, but his actions are sure to come under the scrutiny of race officials.
Renshaw out of Tour after sprint incident
Australian Mark Renshaw, the lead-out man for sprinter Mark Cavendish, has been kicked out of the Tour de France for head-butting New Zealand’s Julian Dean in the finale of Thursday’s 11th stage.
“Renshaw is out. We watched the film once and it was blatant. He head-butted Dean like in a keirin race,” said Tour technical director Jean-Francois Pescheux.
“This is cycling, not fighting. Everybody could have ended up on their backs.”