TdF 2010, Stage 11, sprint battle

2010-07-15, , Comments

What battle? Understandably lost in the controversy is the fact that Mark Cavendish has roared back into the form he had last year. He leapt away from the pack and took the stage comfortably. No, the real battle was 500m from the line, fought between Cav’s lead-out man, Mark Renshaw from HTC Columbia, and Julian Dean from Garmin-Transitions. You could see it coming — there’d been barging and shoving on very a fast run-in. Everyone was wound up tight. Dean cut across Renshaw. Either Renshaw had to back down, or he had to force Dean away, or there’d be an almighty pile-up. Renshaw was furious. He lost his head. He used his head, butting Dean three times with it. Then — and this did not look good — he cut in front of Tyler Farrar, the Garmin-Transitions sprinter.

All this happened in a couple of seconds, at high speed. It did look brutal. At least no one got hurt, but the judges came down hard. Mark Renshaw has been eliminated from the Tour.

A sprint finish is all about the individual who gets to the line first, but it’s also all about the team. Cavendish always stresses his wins are team victories: the HTC Columbia train sets him up, he just has to finish the job. HTC Columbia had already lost one rider, Adam Hansen, on stage 2, evidently without too many adverse effects, but can they do without the world’s best lead-out man, Mark Renshaw? More importantly, how will Cav respond? He’s hot-headed and impetuous. I hope he doesn’t do something stupid.