Mark Cavendish was livid after the race commissaires disqualified from the sprint and penalised him 20 seconds on stage six of the 2008 Tour of California.
He admits he changed bikes, had mechanical assistance and used the slipstreams of the race convoy team cars but questioned why the commissaires bent the rules to help Levi Leipheimer keep the race lead after a crash last year in Santa Rosa but yet punished him so severely.
“I’ve nothing against Pagliarini but it’s just bullshit,” he told Cycling Weekly.
“Who was working on this race? Who was working on this f..king race? I don’t understand it. There’s been cars in bike races for a hundred years. So what are you going to do, make a crit every day?
“I don’t know what happened in the crash. There were a few of is down but both me and Cipo got back on through the convoy. I got on my spare bike but it has an eleven sprocket but it was adjusted for the 12 and so I had it ‘fixed’ on the way back up. Every car in the peloton was dropping a gap and towing me back to the next one, like it’s been in professional cycling for a hundred years.”
“It’s bullshit. When you neutralise a stage 15km from the finish because an American’s in the yellow jersey last year, why can’t you go with the rules (this year)? I’m getting angry now.”
At that point High Road team manager Bob Stapleton took Cavendish away but Stapleton and director sportifs Alan Peiper and Brian Holm were just as angry as their young sprinter.
“This race is a joke. It’s not right that they did this to a young kid like Mark. We didn’t do anything crazy,” Holm said.
“I really love this race, it’s fantastic but last year they changed the rules for Leipheimer. We thought they couldn’t do it but the crash happened and they changed the rules (for Leipheimer). Now we have a crash in the last ten kilometres and they take him (Cavendish) out and fine him. Instead of taking his victory they should have given him a warning.”
“Pagliarini punctured on the highway and it took him 10km to get back on in the cars but nobody disqualified him.”
“We were moving back up the race convoy because were losing our position but we didn’t do anything crazy. If the commissaire had acted like they did with Cavendish during the rest of the race, they should have taken out half of the peloton on the mountain stage or on the stage in the rain.”
Peiper said: “It’s always difficult to accept when you get a stage taken off you. Mark is the fastest sprinter in the race and he showed that today.”
“He changed bikes, his back break had to be adjusted. The mechanic was hanging out of the window and then it’s the call of three commissaires against the rider. They gave him a second penalty and taken the stage off him. They saw us but said we were doing 60km/h but that was how fast the bunch was going.”
Pieper justified the team towing Cavendish back up while giving him mechanical assistance.
“In critical points like that you do what you have to do. It’s a difficult situation when your team has ridden for 80km for your sprinter and then he crashes 10km from the finish. He’s got to change bikes and it’s part of the deal, closing up to the peloton and adjusting his back brake. They gave us no room for discussion.”
Bob Stapleton was a little more diplomatic but was angry the decision had gone against the team.
“I’m not sure what the complaint was but he fought his all the way back to win with a remarkable effort. I think he won the stage fair and square and deserves full credit for it. It’s a complete embarrassment that his effort is tarnished by whatever ruling they made,” Stapleton said.
|TOUR OF CALIFORNIA: STAGE REPORTS|
Stage seven: Leiphemier wins Tour of California
Stage six: Cavendish wins, then gets disqualified
Stage five: Leipheimer sets up victory
Stage four: wind and rain lash race
Stage three: Leipheimer takes the lead
Stage two: Boonen wins in the rain
Stage one: Haedo wins sprint
Prologue: Cancellara wins
|TOUR OF CALIFORNIA: VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS|
Millar happy with second in Tour of California
Stage six video interviews
Cavendish angry about disqualification
Stage five video interviews
Millar: “We won’t let Leipheimer win it”
Stage four video interviews
Stage three video interviews
Millar picks Cancellara as favourite for California TT
Cancellara and Millar to challenge Leipheimer
Tour of California: photo gallery
Cipollini: “Third here is worth a hundred other victories”
Stage two: Cavendish angry after sprint mix-up
Cancellara angry with Hamilton, Sevilla, Botero protests
Cancellara: “I always have to win prologues”
Wiggins and Millar unhappy with prologue rides
Tour of California: preview