Posted: Friday, July 16, 2010 by Travis Cody in

It is my considered opinion that if you intend to report on something, then it is irresponsible to cherry pick the facts you want just so you can write a sexy headline or lead.  And if you intend to take exception with an officiating decision, then you would do best to view the evidence and make sure you have the facts correct before you do so.

Opinions certainly may differ on whether a decision is just.  But the facts are clearly evident for anyone who chooses to view them objectively and without prejudice. 

At the end of stage 11 during the Tour de France, HTC Columbia rider Mark Renshaw led his sprint champion Mark Cavendish at the front of the pack for the run to the finish.  At the same time, Garmin Transitions rider Julian Dean was trying to lead his sprinter Tyler Farrar.  

Per the video evidence, which I have included below, Dean clearly moves to the left off his sprint line into Renshaw.  Renshaw responds with three head butts.  During this exchange, Cavendish flies past the two riders on his way to the sprint victory.

Immediately after Cavendish speeds by, Farrar makes an attempt to accelerate past Renshaw.  Renshaw appears to glance over his left shoulder and then clearly veers directly across Farrar's potential path, driving him dangerously close to the roadway barrier.  Farrar ultimately has to put his arm out and shove Renshaw to keep from possibly crashing.  Meanwhile, Cavendish is winning the sprint and Lampre-Farnese rider Alessandro Petacchi is speeding by on the right to take second for the stage.  Farrar eventually finishes third.

Tour officials expelled Renshaw from the balance of the Tour for impeding Farrar's line, not for the head butting.  I guess it's a better headline to write that Renshaw is out for the head butts, but it is also irresponsible and incorrect to report it in that way.

In my opinion, this video gets the explanation right.

I think that both Dean and Renshaw should have been relegated to the back of the finishing field, Dean for moving out of his sprint line and Renshaw for the head butts and the more egregious act of moving so far out of his sprint line as to nearly cause an accident.

But make no mistake...Renshaw is not an innocent victim here.  He may have reacted to Dean at first, for which both riders should suffer relegation.  But Renshaw took the extra step of impeding Farrar, and that should not go unpunished.  

It's harsh to get tossed out of the Tour with two final sprint finishes looming.  Renshaw is probably the best lead out rider in the peleton.  But Renshaw is responsible for his own tactic.  These sprints are dangerous enough without forcing everyone to dodge riders who don't hold a firm sprint lane.  Renshaw tempted the officials and they brought the hammer down.

Not for a head butt or three.  For dangerous tactics.   


  1. Jeff B says:

    On the bright side...He'll probably get an invitation to be on the WWF.

    Geeze, even cycling is getting confrontational.

  1. The fine art of reporting as a reporter is long lost.

  1. Jeff: The peleton tends to "police itself" fairly well. But in this case I think the Tour officials were right to step in. I don't know that dismissal was the right punishment or not, but something had to be done.

    Charles: You said it.

  1. The video is gone, but from your description - which I know is very accurate - I agree with your assessment of this situation. I don't follow this race much though