Team Sky’s one-two at the Herald Sun Tour was overshadowed by Peter Kennaugh’s spat with Avanti Isowhey’s Pat Shaw on the fourth and final stage on Sunday, with the British national champion seeking out the Australian after the stage and frankly telling reporters exactly what had been said.
Kennaugh instead tried to focus on a successful week for himself and Team Sky, as the Manxman won the first stage en route to second on GC behind team leader Chris Froome, with the two-time Tour de France winner pulling away to win the final stage and leapfrog his teammate into overall victory.
But the incident took some of the shine off a brilliant week for the British team – with Wout Poels and Benat Intxuasti taking first and third at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana – and Kennaugh revealed that he took his complaint up with Shaw directly at the end of the day’s racing.
“Coming into the race, we always said it was possible to get a one-two,” Kennaugh said. “It would be really good to do with Froomey as leader and I was the back up GC. Although those roles changed a bit in the early part of the race, it finished in a perfect way.”
He added: “It’s just a shame a little of the abuse I was getting in the peloton was really disheartening to be honest. It was really disgusting.
“When our director said to ride on the last lap to keep it at 40 seconds to protect my second place on GC, he [Shaw] just came up to me laughing in my face, calling me ‘a selfish c**t’, ‘I don’t know how you sleep at night’. Pat Shaw is his name. ‘I don’t know how you sleep at night’, ‘You’re disgusting’, and all this.
“That’s sport, I guess, it happens, but there is no need for it in the peloton.
“I went and confronted him after the stage, and he couldn’t even look me in the eye, so a bit of a sour note to end on, I guess. It’s good to sort it out. You can’t just speak to people like that on the bike. You wouldn’t walk up to people on the street and speak to people like that. You have to have respect for every person so I went and confronted him and he couldn’t even look me in the eye. His loss, I guess.
“It happens every day fighting for position and obviously tensions are high and everyone is stressed but for it to get really personal like that, it is not very often. I don’t know where it came from, but there you go.”
But Andrew Christie-Johnston, Avanti Isowhey team manager, defended his rider after the stage and chalked the incident up to normal tensions within the peloton between two aggressive riders.
“The situation with Peter all week is that we’ve had a few incidents on the road with him,” Christie-Johnston said.
“One day when we were just trying to position the boys up along side, he basically got stuck in to the guys saying that they shouldn’t be there.
“We have what I’d say a hot head in Pat Shaw and they have a hot head in Peter Kennaugh and, at the end of day, when two hot heads start tackling each other, you don’t get a good response from either.
“They’ve been blueing all week and that was the heat at the end of the week. Words have been exchanged all week about it. At the end of it, they’ll walk away with nothing really to it other than a blue you’d have in a schoolyard, and that’s the way it is really.
“Avanti got head-butted by Kennaugh and he’s responded to that throughout the week and as I said, that happens. It’s racing. When people are trying to hold their ground, they often use their head.
“There was an incident in so far as Pat made a comment but there was nothing more than Kennaugh said to one or two of our riders over the other days.”
“It’s not the way we want to see it finish. Simply like I’ve said, we’ve been trying to calm the two of them down. I don’t whether you saw, but I had a chat with Froomey about it and he just said ‘what’s going on?’. He acknowledged that they have someone who is a bit of a hot head and at the same time, so do we.
“That’s racing. You always have those sort of things in the heat of the moment. It’s not so easy when people are going flat out, heart rate up, power up. You are all trying to do your job. There was nothing dangerous that either of them has done but it’s disappointing to see the argument at the end.
“I don’t feel anything bad about Peter because I have one guy who is much the same. I’ll back Pat Shaw up in what he does, he’s not trying to drop the guy. It’s just words exchanged in the heat of the moment.
“Every team always has someone who is a bit of a hot head, and you have to run with that because they’re the guys who nearly become the team leaders.
“They go and fight for their leaders. You don’t want to see your leader using energy to have a blue with some one, you usually want someone else to sort it out. Pete’s made a comment he obviously felt he needed to. It’s disappointing from our side of it, but I think I’ve explained it pretty well.”