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Luke Rowe (Ineos) and Tony Martin (Jumbo-Visma) have been disqualified from the Tour de France after the two riders tangled and exchanged words during stage 17. Each rider was also fined 1,000 Swiss Francs by the UCI, and docked 50 UCI points.
The expulsion came after race commissaires reviewed the incident after the stage and deemed there had been “voies de fait coureurs” or assaults between riders.
With less than 15km to race, the television coverage showed the peloton riding up a gentle incline on the approach to Gap. Martin was at the front, on the right-hand side of the road. Rowe motioned to ride past, on the right of Martin, but the German made a sudden move to block the progression of the Welshman from Team Ineos.
After a brief pause, a moment to freewheel, and then time to ensure he didn’t either go off the road or fall of his bike, Rowe attempted another move on the right side. Again, Martin swerved right — and again he came into contact with Rowe.
It seemed there had also been previous incidents that may have precipitated Martin’s actions.
Look what Rowe did. pic.twitter.com/zBqKRYr6ed
— kd (@kd2357) July 24, 2019
The incident earned more than a few replays on the television coverage. It also prompted a few questions to be asked of one of the riders involved. Before his disqualification had been issued, Luke Rowe (Ineos) insisted that the incident between he and Tony Martin (Jumbo-Visma) was “bike racing” and ended with “no stress.”
“I think we were both on the same road, both doing the same job. And it was nothing really. It’s all good,” Rowe said after the stage.
And with that, Rowe shrugged his shoulders in front of a group of some 10 journalists at the end of stage 17.
However, the race jury did not agree, and both riders were disqualified after the stage.
The media had gathered around Rowe at the finish line, largely because warnings — and fines — have already been issued to a number of teams for this kind of antic. But Rowe didn’t seem to care. He was all smiles after he got out of the doping control van parked near the finish.
There was a brief consultation with Team Ineos PR officer George Solomon and then Rowe casually sauntered over to where the TV cameras were.
“I rolled over the line with him,” he told Daniel Friebe, reporting for a UK TV network. “It’s all good. We shook hands.”
Grinning, he offered a brief explanation of what unfolded: “We just got in each others’ way and that’s bike racing. No stress. All good.”
Then he added with a broader smile: “And you guys love it, don’t you?”
When VeloNews suggested it seemed to be quite “malicious,” Rowe responded: “Oh yeah?”
When it was offered that on television it looked that way, Rowe further explained himself:
“No, no, no. I don’t know how many Tours de France you’ve ridden but, um, it just does get a bit tense there at times and at the end of the day, you’ve got to have broad shoulders and it’s just no problem. You just move on. We shook hands and rode the last 10km of the stage talking to each other.
“So, no,” he repeated, “it’s all good.”
VeloNews also sought a comment from Tony Martin before the disqualification was announced but he, and the rest of his Jumbo-Visma teammates, did not linger at the finish. A reporter from Norwegian television spoke briefly to Martin at the site of the finish in Gap. He asked if the German had anything to say about the incident.
“What incident?” replied Martin before riding off.