Sprint penalties & disqualifications

July 15, 2010

Lots of debate on the Renshaw DQ. But a lot of it is missing the point. I made some comments about it on Twitter that I won’t all repeat in this blog so check them out here. But 140 characters is too few to tell the whole story. Here is how I see it:

  1. Headbutting doesn’t belong in sports, never.
  2. The explanation on the second part (closing the door on Farrar) is insulting to the fans. Everybody sees him look back and in the next instance close the door, to say he didn’t see Farrar is difficult to believe.
  3. How did Dean escape any scrutiny? I don’t know. Of course an elbow move is not quite as obvious as a headbutt. I’d like to look at this again but can’t find the footage right now.
  4.  I have nothing against Cavendish, I think those who follow me onTwitter know that I was quite positive about him when he was down earlier in this Tour and everybody was kicking him.

BUT HERE IS THE BIG POINT:
We have a new style of sprinting here. We have riders like Martin and Renshaw tangling up not just with the other lead-out trains but also with the designated sprinters of other teams. And the result is that we have rules that don’t work anymore. Standard penalty for a sprinting violation is relegation. But a relegation is no penalty for the leadout guys,, they don’t care if they come 20th or are relegated to 180th. So taken to the extreme, we would have lead-out guys doing everything the cycling Gods have forbidden, hindering the other team’s designated sprinters and happily taking the relegation while their lead sprinter goes on to win races uncontested. That would be the extreme case, the sprinter goes for the win, his teammates crash all the opponents and get relegated while their sprinter keeps the win. Is that fair?

That cannot be the intent of the rules. And so I think that’s why the jury took Renshaw out of the race, because the standard penalty would be no penalty at all. I am sure that if Cav had done himself what Renshaw did today, he would just have been relegated – because that WOULD have been a real penalty for him. Some find this unfair, and maybe it is, but a lesser penalty is also unfair. What we need is penalties that fit the crime, or even better (though more utopian), more awareness among riders to do the correct and respectful thing (Maarten Ducrot is starting to affect me).

So is the punishment too harsh for Renshaw, or is it correct and is it wrong that if he had been a lead sprinter he would have gotten a more lenient penalty? Or is a headbutt simply worse than the other infractions a sprinter can be guilty of? Personally, I don’t mind the tough calls, we shouldn’t wait for a really bad accident before we act. That means I am OK with the Renshaw call, but I also think there have been several other instances in this Tour where penalty would have been in order. And of course that shouldn’t make Renshaw a pariah either. Next race, we start from zero.

That leaves us with the other incidents in this Tour; obviously that clown hitting his colleague on the head with a wheel should have been sent home too. But I presume they’ve kept him in the race purely for entertainment value.

One Response to “Sprint penalties & disqualifications”


  1. [...] “headbutt”. You may know that I have little patience for headbutts and thought Renshaw’s DQ was justified last year. But this is a lean, not a headbutt. If Cav leans with his shoulder (as he is supposed to [...]


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