Cyclists Luke Rowe and Tony Martin have protested their disqualification from the Tour de France for “acts of violence.”
The two riders clashed with 14 kilometers to go in the race’s 17th stage on Wednesday as Martin cycled across Rowe, almost forcing the Welshman off the road.
Rowe in turn responded by grabbing and pushing his rival it was widely reported. The UCI later disqualified later both riders for “acts of violence.”
“I do feel quite hard done by,” Rowe said at the end of the stage.
“I spent the best part of an hour in that UCI van with the video tapes and I was trying to fight my battle but I was also trying to fight Tony’s. I said you can’t be throwing Tony out and you can’t throw myself out for this.”
The decision is a big blow for Team Ineos, with captain Rowe playing a key role in helping lead rider Geraint Thomas defend his Tour de France title with four days remaining.
Thomas currently trails Julian Alaphilippe, who is aiming to become the first Frenchman to win Le Tour since 1985.
Martin’s disqualification will also impact his Team Jumbo-Visma, which hopes to secure a podium place for Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk.
“It’s still a big shock and I feel super bad and sad leaving the team at this important part of the race,” said Martin.
“We’re fighting for the podium to Paris and leaving the team in this way is really bad. I think also it’s a hard decision from the jury and so far we have to accept it.”
Both riders’ teams confirmed they are looking to appeal the decision and released a joint statement protesting what they deemed a “very harsh” verdict.
“Luke and Tony recognized it for what it was – a minor spat on the road at the end of a sweltering day in the saddle,” says the statement.
“It didn’t affect any other rider and it didn’t disadvantage any other team. They rode to the end of the stage together where they both shook hands. There was no ill will and they clearly still have a lot of respect for one another.
“We believe it is unjust that their Tour could come to an end over something like this at this point in the race.”