Luke Rowe said he feels like he has let his team and himself down after being thrown off the Tour de France.
Welshman Rowe was involved in an altercation with Jumbo-Visma’s Tony Martin in the final 15km of stage 17, where Martin swerved into Rowe.
The Team Ineos road captain then put his hand on Martin immediately after.
Race commissaires reviewed the footage after the stage and eventually decided to throw both riders off the race.
After the decision was announced, Rowe told ITV (opens in new tab): “It’s the biggest sporting event in the world and to come here with this team alongside a bunch of good mates, I just feel like I’ve let them down. Of course I’ve let myself down.
“I’m quite shocked, I think it’s a very harsh punishment but it’s something I’ve got to live with now and hold my head high.”
Rowe said that both riders had been fighting for position at the front of the bunch near the conclusion of stage 17 of the Tour de France 2019 to Gap, causing tempers to flare but adding “it wasn’t a big thing.”
He said that both riders sat up at the 10km mark and rode to the finish together, shaking hands and admitting they were both in the wrong.
Team Ineos principal, Sir Dave Brailsford, said: “They’ve decided to expel Tony and Luke from the race, which feels incredibly harsh if I’m honest.
“It’s nothing more than you see on most days of the race.”
Brailsford said the situation was completely different to the incident with Gianni Moscon from the 2018 Tour, when the Italian was kicked off the race for punching French rider Elie Gesbert, saying there was no aggression between Martin and Rowe.
The official communication from the race jury said Rowe and Martin were “out of competition” for an assault between riders.
They were also fined 1,000 Swiss Francs (£812) points each and deducted 50 UCI points.
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