Kelly questions commissaire’s decision to relegate Cavendish and Hushovd
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Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Kelly questions commissaire’s decision to relegate Cavendish and Hushovd

by Shane Stokes at 10:27 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Says it’s a ‘sorry time’ for sprinters

Sean KellyFour time Tour green jersey winner Sean Kelly has said that he is perplexed as to why the commissaires decided to relegate Mark Cavendish (HTC Highroad) and Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) from yesterday’s intermediate sprint. The duo finished sixth and 12th in the gallop to the line 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.

While the manoeuvre didn’t appear dangerous and has been seen many times in the past when sprinters set themselves up for sprints, the commissaires decided to disqualify both from the gallop. Cavendish lost 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.

Hushovd apparently asked the commisaires to penalise him only, but they refused to do so. HTC Highroad indicated last night that it would not be appealing, presumably feeling that it would be useless.

“From the shots we could see, there was very little there,” said Kelly, who is commentating on the race for Eurosport. “It was just a bit of shouldering. We were wondering if that was the only incident in the sprint. If it was, there wasn’t anything much there.

“From what I saw, you could see that both came together and leaned against each others. You’d kind of give a little bit of a bump of your shoulder. Both of them seemed to be doing it, which is perfectly normal in sprinting. If they are going to start disqualifying guys for that, then it is a sorry time.”

Kelly did give his thumbs up to one aspect from yesterday’s sprint; namely, the new format. Instead of multiple intermediate sprints taking place during stages, as was the case in the past, this year’s Tour features just one. It offers points to the first 15 finishers, and has seen all the green jersey contenders taking part.

“I think the intermediate sprints are going to be interesting,” he said. “Today [Monday] we could see that there was change of tactics from the teams and the riders. On the first day, Garmin was making it for Farrar and Omega Pharama were making the sprint for Greipel. But that changed today, Hushovd was thinking of the green jersey and so too Gilbert.

“Cavendish has been getting involved, and that is something he hasn’t been doing before. I think he only took points once in the intermediate sprints last year, whereas now he is getting involved big time. That is because of the big points available. It gives a little bit of interest at the halfway point of the race.”

Believes time trial regulations are over the top:

Apart from the relegation of Cavendish and Hushovd, Kelly also said that he couldn’t understand the previous day’s happenings, when the commissiares insisted that the riders all had completely flat saddles for the team time trial. Many riders angle their saddles down slightly for comfort, with the groin area coming under pressure in an extreme tuck position.

A UCI regulation states that saddles should be flat, but this has not been enforced before and many riders were required to make last-minute changes before the start.

Kelly’s questioning of the commissaires’ action is that it was done in the Tour de France, rather than earlier in the season. “The interpretation has been a problem for a while. In the past one commissaire would let a bike go through, while you could go another race and another commissaire wouldn’t pass it at all. It was a problem with the commissaires in the way they were reading the rules or making the calculation.

“It seems to be a bit of a crazy one. I can’t see why the rider are changing their positions now from when they were riding in Paris-Nice, Tirreno Adriatico or anything major like that. I’d understand if a saddle is put a lot forward, something like that, but the saddle being level, that sort of thing seems to be a crazy thing on the part of the commissaires. I just think they are showing their authority and really just being difficult, being awkward.”

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