Ace sprinter Mark Cavendish admitted he let emotions get the best of him Thursday when he gave an Italian version of a two-finger salute as he crossed the line victorious in the second stage at the Tour de Romandie.

Despite the sprinter’s contrition, however, his HTC-Columbia team has pulled him from the race, citing his inappropriate behavior.

Cavendish: 'I apologize to everybody watching the race and especially the kids.'
Cavendish: 'I apologize to everybody watching the race and especially the kids.'

Cavendish won for just the second time this season and jammed two fingers up in the air in a victory celebration that looked eerily similar to the Italian version of flipping the bird.

The HTC-Columbia sprint star said he wanted to send a message to his critics, but admitted he went too far.

“I want to publicly apologize for the gesture I made on the finish line of the Tour de Romandie yesterday,” Cavendish said in a team statement released Friday. “I did want to make a statement to my critics, but I realize that making a rude gesture on the finish line is not the best way to do that.”

This spring, Cavendish has been plagued with a tooth infection that set back his training and preparation coming into the spring season. His dearth of victories – just two counting Thursday’s win – has set tongues a wagging that the usually prolific Cavendish is off his best.

Cavendish is one of the most out-spoken voices in the peloton and he couldn’t hide his emotion in Thursday’s sprint victory at Romandie.

“I apologize to everybody watching the race and especially the kids. I am not proud of releasing the feelings in that way,” he continued. “I hope I can redeem myself and show my feelings and passion for cycling with some exciting results in the next couple of months rather than with gestures such as the one yesterday.”

But the apology was not enough for his team bosses, who decided to pull the Manx rider out of the race.

“High Road Sports has taken Mark Cavendish out of the Tour de Romandie at the conclusion of (Friday’s) tage as a result of his inappropriate actions after winning stage two of the race on Thursday,” the team announced.

The team added that it “agrees with an individual fine issued by the UCI commissaries and in addition will direct payment of Cavendish’s prize money from his stage win to the international charity Right To Play”.