Controversy at Tour de France as Cavendish and Hushovd relegated from intermediate sprint
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Monday, July 4, 2011

Controversy at Tour de France as Cavendish and Hushovd relegated from intermediate sprint

by Shane Stokes at 2:30 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Rojas delighted to take over green jersey

Mark CavendishOne day after the controversial decision by race commissaires to compel riders to make their saddles completely level for the team time trial, riders and fans alike are questioning the decision to relegate world champion Thor Hushovd and green jersey favourite Mark Cavendish from the mid-stage intermediate sprint today.

The riders had a fight for space in the leadup to the gallop at St. Hilaire des Chaleons, 94 kilometres from the finish in Redon. Hushovd moved up alongside Cavendish and on a gradual left hand bend with approximately 200 metres to go, drifted onto the wheel that the Manxman was following. The HTC Highroad rider defended his space, leaning into Hushovd and then pushing him with his head.

The manoeuvre – which looked mild in comparison to what has been seen in sprints in the past – was successful and Cavendish defended his position prior to launching his gallop and hitting the line first. Five riders were clear ahead in a break but in taking sixth, he picked up ten points for the green jersey classification.

However after a finish later won by Hushovd’s Garmin-Cervélo team-mate Tyler Farrar, fifth-placed Cavendish was relegated from the intermediate sprint result. That cost him the ten points, while Hushovd dropped four points. The net result was that Hushovd went from what had been a provisional third to fourth in the sprints classification, while Cavendish went from fifth to ninth. The latter is now a full 38 points behind new leader Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Movistar).

“Just discovered Thor and I have been disqualified from the intermediate sprint today. Seriously no idea why?!” an upset Cavendish on his Twitter feed approximately an hour after the stage end.

Hushovd didn’t comment after the decision was announced, but Cavendish later added that the Norwegian had made a generous gesture.

“Just heard that Thor's offered to take the punishment solely. What a true gentleman. I reckon it won't change f**-all though. But thank you,” he wrote.

Hushovd has said that he is not aiming for the green jersey competition this year, and is instead expected to ride for Farrar.

Fellow sprinter Robbie McEwen, who is missing this year’s Tour due to non-selection, watched the incident on TV and said that he was perplexed. “Gotta say I disagree with the dq of Cav & Thor intmdte [intermediate] sprint today. That was nothing more than a bit balancing & didn't influence result,” he wrote on Twitter. That reaction has been echoed by many.

Rojas delighted with Maillot Vert:

Spanish road race champion José Joaquín Rojas (Team Movistar) picked up third at the finish and took over from stage one winner Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma Lotto) in that competition. He was extremely satisfied to do so. “This green jersey is the reward for lots of sacrifice, and I'm really happy to wear it. This was one of the goals, along with taking a stage win, and I'm showing I can get them both,” he said.

“It was a dangerous finale, and after the last turn I came a bit behind and had it tough to pass ahead. I took it from long, because I feared I would get boxed in, but I missed some strength when I dropped the chain for some more power as I was overtaking them. I didn't win, but if I didn't start sprinting, I wouldn't have taken the jersey. I'm feeling super strong and will keep trying.”

He said that he regards Gilbert as ‘almost unbeatable,’ but that he will try to do as well as possible on tomorrow’s uphill finish at Mûr-de-Bretagne. After that, he’ll continue aiming to gather points for the rest of the race. “Taking green into Paris? Why not; if I didn't think I could do it, I wouldn't be contesting it. I've shown I'm at the level of the best, and will fight for it until the very last day.”

He currently has a total of 65 points, seven ahead of Farrar and 13 up on Gilbert. Hushovd is next with 50, while Cavendish is now ninth with 27.


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