Mark Renshaw has been expelled from the Tour de France after helping his HTC-Columbia team-mate Mark Cavendish to victory on stage 11 by using his head.
Australian Renshaw was three times seen to head butt rival leadout man Julian Dean (Team Garmin-Transitions) in the run-in to the finish of stage 11 in Bourg-les-Valence.
Cavendish went on to win the stage – his third of the 2010 Tour and the 13th of his career – but his hopes of winning the points classification’s green jersey have receded with the disqualification of Renshaw, widely regarded as the world’s best leadout man.
Cavendish, who also won stages five and six of the 97th Tour, today triumphed on the 184.5-kilometre stage from Sisteron to Bourg-les-Valence ahead of Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese) and Tyler Farrar (Team Garmin-Transitions).
But the win came at a cost as Renshaw was disqualified from the remaining nine race days of the Tour.
To keep his team-mate in the best possible position, Australian Renshaw moved rival Dean – leading out Farrar – out of his way with three head butts to the New Zealander’s side.
Dean was manoeuvred to one side and Farrar’s challenge faltered as Cavendish exploded off Renshaw’s wheel in customary fashion to claim a comfortable win by three bike lengths.
Physical contact is permitted, but organisers deemed Renshaw’s tactic to be illegal.
The stage win again enhanced Cavendish’s hopes of winning the points classification’s green jersey – his stated aim before the Tour began.
However, without Renshaw the task of overcoming a 29-point deficit becomes even more difficult for the Manxman.