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Cavendish secures stage victory as Renshaw is thrown off Tour

Mark Cavendish celebrates his victory in stage 11 of the Tour de France.
Mark Cavendish celebrates his victory in stage 11 of the Tour de France.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mark Cavendish wins stage 11 of the Tour de France
  • British rider's HTC Columbia teammate Mark Renshaw disqualified
  • Renshaw head butted Julian Dean to clear path for Cavendish
  • Luxembourg's Andy Schleck holds onto the yellow jersey

(CNN) -- Mark Cavendish's thrilling sprint victory on stage 11 of the Tour de France was tempered after HTC Columbia teammate Mark Renshaw was thrown out of the race.

British rider Cavendish surged ahead after an ill-tempered sprint at the climax of the 184.5km stage from Sisteron to Bourg-les-Valence.

But as the riders jostled for position Australian Renshaw was seen to launch a series of head butts at rival Julian Dean from the Garmin-Transition team.

Shortly after the end of the stage officials confirmed Renshaw had been eliminated from the Tour.

The Tour's technical director Jean-Francois Pescheux told AFP: "Renshaw was declassified immediately but we have decided to also throw him off the race.

"We've only seen the pictures once, but his actions are plain for all to see. This is a bike race, not a gladiator's arena."

Renshaw is seen by many as one of the finest lead out men in the race and his disqualification is a major blow for Cavendish's hopes of landing more stage wins.

I'm lucky to have a guy who will put himself on the line for me like that.
--Mark Cavendish
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The Australian appeared to launch three nudges of his head towards Dean to clear the path for Cavendish and his punishment was swift.

In an eventful stage Italian Alessandro Petacchi came in second to take the green jersey from Thor Hushovd. American Tyler Farrar was third.

Andy Schleck, from Luxembourg, held onto the yellow jersey for another day after recording the same time as Cavendish.

After the stage Cavendish told the Tour's official website: "It's nice to keep winning. I've got a dedicated group of guys and I've got to thank them all.

"I had to go from a bit further out today -- 350 meters to go, while normally I go between 250 and 200... so it was really, really long. It was more like a breakaway in terms of sprinting.

"Mark held Julian Dean off and opened the door for me to go. It was Julian who put his elbow in and if Mark didn't push back there was a chance they could have locked elbows and gone down... Mark just kept going and did everything he could to keep me out of trouble.

"I'm lucky to have a guy who will put himself on the line for me like that. He's got incredible bike handling skills and it's so nice to be able to follow his wheel from 50 kilometers to go and know that, at the finish, I'll be put in a winning position.

"If the green jersey comes, it comes but it's a great battle. Thor and Alessandro are great sprinters and it's actually fun to watch that battle unfold."

Friday's 210.5 km stage is between Bourg-de-Péage and Mende.