Luke Rowe (Team Ineos) and Tony Martin (Jumbo-Visma) have given a joint interview with their verdict on the incident that saw them thrown out of the Tour de France 2019.
The two riders clashed as Martin appeared to try and force Rowe off the road with around 15km to go on stage 17, with footage showing Rowe retaliating.
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Both riders have apologised for their actions on the stage, with Rowe saying he felt he had let his team down and Martin adding that it was hard to take that he would not be able to further contribute to his team’s fight for an overall podium place with Steven Kruijswijk.
Both Team Ineos and Jumbo-Visma have submitted an appeal of the commissaires’ decision to throw the riders out of the race, with a final decision expected ahead of stage 18 on Thursday morning.
Rowe and Martin both also said that they believed the decision was harsh and that, while they regretted they’re actions, they did not believe it was enough to justify the level of punishment the commissaires chose. Rowe explained he had spent almost an hour with the commissaires to try and fight his side, but to no avail.
Team Ineos boss Dave Brailsford said what happened is “nothing more than you see on most days of the race.”
If the commissaires stand by their decision, the teams will head into the crucial final three stages of this Tour in the Alps without key lieutenants for their leaders.
Geraint Thomas currently sits in second place and is best positioned to usurp Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) as race leader. Kruijswijk is not far behind, just 12 seconds off Thomas in third place.
Both however will be wary of Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), who is only a further three seconds behind Kruijswijk and has shown himself to be the strongest climber in the race with victory on the Col du Tourmalet last Saturday.
Thursday’s stage 18 will be a brutal introduction to the Alps with a 208km stage from Embrun to Valloire that crosses the Col de Vars and the hors categorie Col d’Izoard and the Col du Galibier.