Tour de France 2010, Stage 11: Was Tyler Farrar cheated by head-butting?

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Sprinting with a broken wrist, Wenatchee cycling hero Tyler Farrar finished third in a Stage 11 that might have been his if not for questionable heat-butting tactics by Mark Cavendish teammate and leadout man Mark Renshaw.

That’s right. As fierce as the competition has been on the Tour, we’re now at the point of head-butting to gain an edge.

TV footage showed clearly that Farrar teammate Julian Dean, riding as Tyler’s leadout man in the absence of Robbie Hunter, was impeded by Renshaw in repeated head butts. And that subsequently Farrar himself was cut off by Renshaw swerving alongside him. It may have been the impeding of Farrar, in fact, rather than the head-butting, that got Renshaw DQ’d.

A distraught Farrar — the cool-headed Tyler seldom blows a gasket — all but accused Renshaw of illegal tactics in the post-race Versus interview.

We’ll wait for the judges’ review, but to our eyes it looked like Tyler was cheated. He may not have beat Cavendish anyway, but Renshaw’s actions were out of line. (Renshaw denied in post-race interviews that he intentionally impeded Dean.)

[UPDATE: Twitter feeds are saying that Renshaw has been disqualified from the Tour.]

Full stage results from CyclingNews.com.

At the start of the stage, Farrar got more bad news when his Garmin-Transitions teammate and lead-out man Hunter had to pack it in with a broken elbow.

Joining a parade of riders with an incredible array of ailments and broken bones in this year’s Tour, Hunter withdrew after taking a spill in yesterday’s otherwise uneventful Stage 10.

Farrar himself is riding with a cracked bone in his wrist, an admirable feat given the inevitable pain and suffering any break entails. Farrar still hopes to make it to Paris and has another couple of tries for his first Tour de France stage win ever in sprint finishes.

But it’s not going to be easy with Hunter missing. An experienced, savvy and most of all bullet-strong sprinter himself, Hunter was the key to Farrar’s hopes for a sprint win. Not all is lost with Hunter’s departure, but it makes Farrar’s job all the more difficult.

Tomorrow’s hilly stage could supply some drama if climbers decide to make a race of it.

Additional notes:

If you’re wondering, as I was, if a DQ from the overall Tour had happened before, Belgian rider Tom Steels was disqualified in 1997 for tossing a water bottle at a competitor in the final sprint. (Thanks to @sonofabike on Twitter.)

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4 thoughts on “Tour de France 2010, Stage 11: Was Tyler Farrar cheated by head-butting?”

  1. What source are you hearing that from Richard? What I heard from Tyler in Versus interview was clearly: “I don’t know, it’s impossible to say.” (Whether he would’ve won without being cut off.)

    Julian Dean, Tyler’s teammate, did say on Versus he didn’t think it affected the result. And so did Phil and Paul. But I never heard that from Tyler (and later Dean kind of revised his statement to reflect he felt Tyler got cut off by Renshaw’s swerving).

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