Mark Cavendish was withdrawn by his HTC-Columbia team from the Tour de Romandie in Switzerland on Friday as a result of the two-fingered salute used by the Manxman when he won stage two.

Cavendish stuck two fingers in the air as he crossed the line after winning Thursday’s stage, later saying that the gesture was aimed at “journalists and commentators who know jack-**** about cycling”. It was the British sprinter’s second win of the year after struggling with a severe tooth infection in the early season.

On Friday morning, Cavendish issued an apology for his actions via an HTC-Columbia statement, but the squad has now taken the matter one step further by withdrawing him from the event.

“I did want to make a statement to my critics but I realise that making a rude gesture on the finish line is not the best way to do that,” Cavendish said.

“I apologise to everybody watching the race and especially the kids. I am not proud of releasing the feelings in that way.”

Cavendish has been fined 6,000 Swiss francs by the Romandie race jury for the gesture and the team will donate his stage winnings to a children’s charity, Right To Play.

The Briton will now concentrate on stage wins at the Tour of California in America (May 16-23).

HTC-Columbia’s Michael Rogers took the Tour de Romandie race lead after Friday’s time trial stage. Two stages remain in the race, which concludes on Sunday.

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