How The Race Was Won – 2010 Tour de France, Stage 11

Jul 16 2010

Obviously I couldn’t keep off this one—not the way the Internet exploded following Renshaw’s ejection. It wasn’t entirely an otherwise unremarkable stage, but most of this focuses on the final few meters.

[click for iPad/iPhone/downloadable version]
[Contains, in order of appearance, footage from Eurosport, Versus and NOS, and still photos from Graham Watson, Pascal Pavan, Eric Gaillard, Lauren Rebours and Fotoreporter Sirotti.]

I said almost immediately—and have the audio to prove it—that I thought Renshaw would get relegated for closing the gate, but I think the race jury wanted some way of punishing Cavendish for the actions of his leadout man, and so bumped Renshaw from the race. The Aussie’s been fantastic all Tour long—it’ll be interesting to see how things shake out without him.

No shortage of opinion on this one, ranging from no sanction should be given to no headbutting should be allowed ever in any sport. I obviously think I’m right, but please don’t feel bound to defer to my feelings on the subject. Versus did a great job of getting reaction interviews moments after the finish: here’s Dean, Farrar, and Renshaw.

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31 Responses to “How The Race Was Won – 2010 Tour de France, Stage 11”

  1. colin 16 July 2010 at 10:02 am #

    The last 15 seconds of that were so fucking money.

  2. ryank 16 July 2010 at 10:17 am #

    Love the use of “Chillaxathon”.

  3. Oliver 16 July 2010 at 10:23 am #

    I said that I thought he should be and would be DQ’d. Alas, I have no audio to prove it…. 🙁

  4. Dan 16 July 2010 at 10:28 am #

    You see a lot of conflicting talk about why Renshaw was kicked out. Comments from Rolf Aldag after arguing with the race officials indicated that it was the head butting, and the officials say so themselves:

    From cycling news:
    >Race director Jean-Francois Pescheux reviewed the film, which shows >Renshaw repeatedly head-butting Garmin-Transitions man Julian Dean, who >was leading out Tyler Farrar. The move delayed Farrar’s ability to sprint.

    >”Renshaw hit [Dean] with his head, much like in a keirin. But we are in the >sport of cycling, we’re not in combat. They all could have ended up on their >backs tonight. We can not accept that.”

    And velonews quoting Pesheux:
    “We’ve only seen the pictures once, but his actions are plain for all to see. This is a bike race, not a gladiator’s arena.”

    Velonews had a video analyzing the whole thing and were of the opinion that the head butting was no big deal because Renshaw was just protecting his line against a veering Julian Dean. The video seemed to think that the real offense was Renshaw’s closing the door on Farrar. I totally agree with that.

    Have the officials released an official statement about the matter? I haven’t seen one. What I remember from that velonews video is that the official statement was very vague. That is just a terrible job by the race officials. It looks like they decided to kick Renshaw out because of the head butting, which is just a terrible call, and ignored his shutting the door on Farrar, which was worthy of a penalty.

    This really makes the race officials look bad. If you are going to kick a guy out of the tour, you should spell out exactly what he did wrong so that others don’t do it. It makes it look like they are out to stick it to Cav.

  5. colin 16 July 2010 at 10:35 am #

    The obviously fair judgement would be to relegate Cav. It’s a team sport, your team commits an infraction, your team loses the victory. That’s so much cleaner than have to choose between relegating Renshaw (not harsh enough, he doesn’t care if he’s 110th on the day) and DQing him (too harsh for obvious reasons).

  6. mattio 16 July 2010 at 10:40 am #

    There’s a lot of comparison to Barredo/Costa, but Barredo and Costa weren’t going 65kph in front of 180 other racers when their fireworks went off.

    I don’t think that Renshaw was protecting his line. He was protecting Cav’s line to his left.

  7. Loving the Bike 16 July 2010 at 10:43 am #

    Yeah, that was some finish wasn’t it? Like you I immediately figured that Renshaw would be booted so I wasn’t surprised by that.

    You have to give it to Tyler Farrar for maintaining control while Renshaw cut him off and almost sent him into the railing.


  8. stephenw 16 July 2010 at 11:46 am #

    Never having raced but being an avid cyclist and fan (a category into which I’m sure many fall), I appreciate that the head-butting is probably much more common (if more egregious in this case) than I at first appreciated.

    Cutting off Farrar is not only the more serious offense, because it is potentially more dangerous, but it also gets HTC to the point that I think either ejecting Renshaw or relegating Cavendish starts to make sense. HTC has shown an increasing tendency this year towards aggressive and dangerous riding in its efforts to prove Cav’s blustery claims to being the best in the world — witness, for instance, Cav’s own nasty crash last month, in which he was clearly at fault.

    I fall into the camp that Cav and Renshaw should both have been relegated, rather than Renshaw ejected and Cav allowed to keep his win. Why? Being, like many Americans, thoroughly versed in the law thanks to Law and Order, my take is that Cav’s win was “fruit of a poison tree.”

    By ejecting Renshaw but leaving Cav in place, officials leave open the possibility that other teams might make a similar calculation — it’s worth losing a rider to win a race. I’m not saying that was the conscious calculation that HTC made, but it’s what Renshaw’s behavior amounted to (albeit he likely didn’t imagine that he would be ejected).

    As for two other oft stated ideas in this debate: First, Cav was not obviously the fastest guy out there. Despite being cut off and having to sit up for a moment, Farrar closed the gap to Cav significantly by the finish. And second, the situation with Barredo and Costa really seems different to me, as they were endangering no one but themselves.

  9. Clam Chowder 16 July 2010 at 12:02 pm #

    Great video Cosmo. Its unfortunate that Renshaw was tossed from the race – I think a relegation and fine would have been enough. His big mistake was looking over his left shoulder before moving left on Farrar, thereby signaling intent. I’ve noticed Petacchi veering sharply from his line in several sprints with nary a word said about it. And I know there are some who think Cav should have been punished as well, but the rules just don’t allow for punishing someone who has done nothing wrong, correct?

    In one of the sprints a few days ago Hushovd was doing some serious banging with his shoulder and elbow, again viewed as just part of the sprint. Renshaw’s offense seems worse because of the three headbutts, but he really had no other option with Dean’s elbow coming over him. I wonder if he would have gotten away with it if it was only 1 or 2 headbutts.

  10. mattio 16 July 2010 at 12:38 pm #

    I really don’t think there should be a rule that allows a sprinter to be punished for the action of his leadout man. I think that opens a bad door, with the potential of winning being based on who (the race jury determines) follows the most rules, rather than who gets to the finish line first. It’s not a TTT, not a kilo, not a flying 200. It’s a field sprint.

  11. j 16 July 2010 at 12:52 pm #

    Fired?? You really have to be kidding us all!! It was the boredest, sleepiest stage in all 2010, let alone the Tour, and along comes Rensahw and saves the day with his last minute antics and claims that he didn’t do anything. He should be fucking promoted and given a big fat bonus check.

    No seriously, Robbie McEwen headbutted O’Grady exactly like that a few years ago and they didn’t kick him out, they just gave him the last place on the stage. Furthermore, Bettini once put Baden Cooke to the barriers at 65kph in a sprint in the Giro and they annulled his stage victory, but didn’t eject him either. The officials should make rules that state clearly what deserves being kicked out and what doesn’t, otherwise, they shouldn’t kick him out of the tour just because an official was on a bad tempered power trip.

  12. colin 16 July 2010 at 1:22 pm #

    @mattio: there is already a bad door open, in that your leadout man can endager/block/headbutt/crash other sprinters, and you can still win the stage because “hey he’s just the leadout man, i didn’t do anything wrong”

  13. DJ 16 July 2010 at 1:36 pm #

    Maybe a compromise would be relegating the offending lead-out man combined with awarding the stage win but NOT the green jersey points to the teammate? Although I do think that this sets a good example – it is not the headbutting but the closing of the door that is shameless and should be punished. Otherwise it indeed becomes very attractive to ‘take one for the team’, especially in shorter races or one-day classics that generally end up in a sprint.

  14. mindtron 16 July 2010 at 1:44 pm #

    I’m still curious why Farrar dropped off Dean’s wheel for Cav’s as Dean was moving up on Renshaw.

    Dean was clearly moving faster and Farrar could have launched to the right forcing Cav to try and go left and then come across to him or at least provide a drag race between them (and given how much more Cav was huffing and puffing at the end than normal, he might not have been able to match him)

  15. Steve-O 16 July 2010 at 3:58 pm #

    The head-butting, while obviousely dangerous, is usually not punished because it’s the “safest” way a guy can counter the force being exerted on him by the other rider without taking his hands off the bars. I’m not condoning head-butting but sometimes you do what you have to do.
    The action deserving a reprimand was Renshaw’s slamming the door on Farrar. Like a previous poster said, Renshaw looking over his shoulder CLEARLY SIGNALS INTENT. If you’re going to pull a stunt like that, at least disguise it as much as possible and try to make it look unintentional.
    Regarding punishment, relegate both Renshaw & Cav. Sounds harsh for poor Cav, but you can’t be allowed win a race with your team using unsportsmanlike methods. Cav (and the HTC hierarchy) need to see that their charges compete within the context of the rules. TdF officials needed to make a statement so these antics, by any team, won’t continue or escalate.
    HTC/Cav are EXTREMELY talented & strong. It is beneath them to resort to these kinds of “tactics” just to stay on top. It’s the “win-at-all-costs” mentality, but substitute overly aggressive/dangerous riding for doping.

  16. cthulhu 16 July 2010 at 5:44 pm #

    I’d like to add the following things.
    1. While I concur that the first and second headbutt were a more or less normal reaction to Deans overly aggressive riding the third headbutt was to ensure to make place for Cav and that was the first foul action by Renshaw. But then after looking behind him and shutting the door on Farrar was even worse. I mean, yes he has the right to sprint aswell and maybe steal points from Cav’s opponents, but that was clearly not his intention. He looks to his left, sees Cav going and Farrar coming, shuts the door and takes out speed. That is very unsportsmanlike and something HTC and Cav really don’t need to win stages, they have enough class and talent to do it fair and still be dominating.
    2. They Jury wanted to make an example before this idea goes around. I mean unfair behaviour like Cav last year or McEwen some years ago being penalised by being relegated to the last place hurt them, it cost them points in the green jersey competition and Cav the jersey, but how do you penalise somebody who couldn’t care less about time or points loss or placing as long as his captain wins. And punishing his captain although he didn’t do anything wrong seems a bit unjust too. Nor would a fine do it. For example fine him 1000 Euro, well the victory brings in about 10 times that amount. So if we continue this hypothetical example let us assume the A-Team would win 30000 Euros in price money if the ride fair, but could make 60000 Euro through such behaviour, though would have to 10k Euro fines. That would not only gain them 20k, but mean 30 k less for other teams. And the result the others would apply such foul tactics aswell and the sprints get even more aggressive and crash marred. I personally see no other way to penalise Renshaw for his actions without him really being affected by the penalty.
    3. Dean should have been given a penalty too. He didn’t hold his line and went his elbow using into Renshaw. And was already overly aggressive before. But then again it could have been that they punished themselves already in riding not very smart once again. That brings me to
    4. What was Farrar thinking? I don understand his actions. We know you cannot pass Cav from his wheel, especially not while you’re a bit handicapped. Also Dean had much more speed than Renshaw, wouldn’t that have been worth a try? And why is it always Garmin behaving like amateurs in group sprints. Last year’s Champs-Élysée finish anybody? That was even below “amateurish”.
    5. Please don’t bring up that wrestling scene for comparison. That like comparing apples with cabbage. While that was absolutely not OK in many ways it was an isolated incident but the sprint happened in competition, which is the juries jurisdiction. While their fight brought mainly bad light onto themselves they didn’t do any damage to the Tour. While Renshaw’s actions really influenced the race in a negative way and could be comparable to bribing the referee in other sports and must be eliminated before that example damages the race and the sport.

  17. Sebastian 16 July 2010 at 6:31 pm #

    I guess I’m with mattio on this one — Barredo and Costa were guilty of bad sportsmanship, but not of endangering an entire peloton behind them. And I don’t understand why the officials’ decision was “high-nosed” (as opposed to just, say, mistaken). They were just writing in French, not speaking in a Clouseau voice.

  18. Erik 16 July 2010 at 8:42 pm #

    Come on Sebastian. it’s good-natured fun in the U.S. of A. to goof on the French. You know that.

  19. Anonymous 16 July 2010 at 10:13 pm #

    It seems like many people (on several forums) are pinpointing the 3rd headbutt as being one too many. While during the first 2 Renshaw was being encroached upon, he was still being moved over during the 3rd, indicating that Dean was not reasonably holding his line, which is a clear violation of the rules. Less of a movement cost Cav a win and the Maillot Vert last year.

    While I can’t condone the (retaliatary) hook to Farrar, I don’t view the head butts as unreasonable or dangerous; he could have skipped the 3rd, but he wouldn’t have been doing his job without fighting back for his desired line.

    While I believe there weren’t many meaningful actions that could be taken against Renshaw, booting him was excessive, especially in light of what triggered the headbutts. Punishing Renshaw without any sanction to Dean seems unjust.

    BTW Cosmo, who can eat the most fried turkeys, AC or AS?

  20. Chris E 16 July 2010 at 11:18 pm #

    The whole decision making process seems rushed and haphazard to me. Riders were still giving their post-race interviews after the decision had already been reached. Maybe there wasn’t a whole lot of stuff to look at, but if you’re going to make a decision to kick a rider off the biggest bike race of the year perhaps they should speed more than 5 minutes thinking about it and look at the footage more than once.

    Then the unprofessional way the whole thing was handled went to another level, the media was informed before Team-HTC, Cav was in the middle of doing a post-race interview, a journalist informed him Renshaw was removed from the race and Cav clearly looks devastated, starts to defend his team mate and one of the judges intrudes on Cav’s interview to basically shut the gate on any defence.

    The whole handling was pathetic and unprofessional and the UCI needs to have a serious think about how it deals with the handling of such serious decisions, otherwise it just makes cycling look like an amateur sport.

  21. 20PoundSkull 16 July 2010 at 11:57 pm #

    @Chris, in case you didn’t see this commercial, it’s where the how many fried turkeys reference came from:

  22. 20PoundSkull 16 July 2010 at 11:57 pm #

    Sorry Chris, wrong person.

  23. brufus 17 July 2010 at 12:09 am #

    McEwen gave a pretty good assessment.

  24. Touriste-Routier 17 July 2010 at 7:04 am #

    My last comment was posted as Anonymous by mistake

    @20poundskull I know, I just thought Cosmo of all people would have the answer 😉

    @Chris E, if the UCI (in conjunction with WADA) can’t do their doping notification procedures done correctly, why should this situation with the UCI/ASO be any different? This is truly sad.

  25. joe 17 July 2010 at 9:53 am #

    He should of got the Combativity Award for that day.

  26. expert sportsfan 17 July 2010 at 10:13 am #

    First, agree with comments about sportsmanship!
    Second, this lack of sportsmanship starts with lack of leadership by race organizer.
    Race organizer also obviously loses credibility with vague statement that fails to explain process (did they review the video?) or reasoning (was it the head butts or cutting off Farrar?)
    I root for Americans (Farrar), but I like and respect Cavendish so I do not feel emotionally invested in the outcome of the sprint. I have reviewed the videos many times, and I agree with Renshaw that the first aggressive move came from Julian Dean when he tried to drive Renshaw to the left toward the barriers. Assuming that Dean is an expert, professional, and knew what he was doing (reasonable assumptions), the obvious interpretation is that Dean and Garmin know that they can’t beat Cavendish and HTC in a straight sprint. They need to get an edge. They formulate a strategy. Yes, Dean moved left on Renshaw as the first move, and he did it ON PURPOSE. I think that if Renshaw doesn’t hold his line by fighting off Dean, then he and Cavendish would have been penned in over by the barriers on the left. Head butting is most unseemly, and I suspect but don’t know that the French sensibilities were offended by that. I find it offensive too, but I find it more offensive that Dean initiated the physical struggle at the front of the sprint.
    Put simply, why couldn’t Dean and Farrar stay away from HTC and simply pursue their own line? (Answer above.)

  27. Sebastian 17 July 2010 at 2:16 pm #

    @ Erik — I was trying to add to the joke, but I can see how it looked like I missed it altogether!

  28. rainbow 17 July 2010 at 2:31 pm #

    When your following sprinters all butts look bad! . Renshaw as a lead-out has been pushing the limits for quite a while now on what is acceptable practice in the commissars eyes, and the peloton have finally found out. And with which hand did Farrar remove from his handle bar during the sprint his good one or his bad one?. Honestly one less Australian nutter and one less America (DNF) sprinter, as a Kiwi I’m still having difficulty seeing the down side of all this?!

  29. Chris E 17 July 2010 at 8:47 pm #

    I suppose you’re right. Its just tragic because its something so easy to fix. Having an established set of procedures for circumstances such as these that is fair to all parties involved is vital for any sort of dispute resolution. All parties involved in a dispute need to feel they’ve had an opportunity to tell their side of the story before a decision is reached even if their side of the story is inevitably totally disregarded by a bunch of old men who have their own set of opinions.

    That specialized ad has been on TV here in Australia, its the only TDF ad I actually like, its very well done 🙂

  30. Nick Frey 17 July 2010 at 9:37 pm #

    Cosmo, you forgot to mention that making life difficult for Cav = a more interesting sprint. Dominance is boring.

  31. gusitin 18 July 2010 at 5:37 am #

    Good article Cosmo – first time I’ve looked at this blog. I’ll definitely be back. I can only agree with your conclusions. Looks like the organisers want to make the sprints a bit more interesting at HTC’s expense – a relegation for Renshaw would have been more appropriate punishment. As for those who believe that Farrar could have won the stage had Renshaw not blocked him- where is the evidence for that? Cav beaten to the line? A preposterous suggestion.

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