Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Spectator -- not Cavs -- stinks, distracts from Froome's dominance


Mark Cavendish, as seen
on Twitter
All the hubbub about Sky losing control of the yellow jersey that surrounded the off-performance on Stage 8 became a distant memory on Stage 11, when Chris Froome finished second and put at least two minutes between himself and each of the other GC hopefuls.

We hate to say "told you so," but check this out.

Far more deserving of hubbub and outrage was the treatment of Mark Cavendish by tifosi, which is Italian for "cycling goofballs." Cavs' team manager, Patrick Lefevere, confirmed that fans threw urine on Cavendish as he rode the time trial course from Avranches to Mont-Saint-Michel on Wednesday.
"Some spectators were not very pleased with what happened yesterday, and one idiot put urine on him," Lefevere told cyclingnews.com. "Maybe you have a smell of his jersey before you believe. I don't know the taste of urine, but he's a little bit upset at the moment, and down, because he doesn't deserve this."

One fan overreacted to what some perceived as poor sportsmanship of Cavs' part in the sprint on the stage  Tuesday to San Melo. Most contained their piss and vinegar to Twitter or message boards on cycling web sites, though. Tom Veelers, one of the leadout men for winner Marcel Kittel of Argos Shimano, was pulling off after his turn at the front and was drifting back when he and Cavendish came together. Veelers hit the ground hard, and fortunately, no one else even hit the deck.

The overhead replay seemed to show Cavendish leaning into Veelers with his left shoulder and knocking him to the floor, a move Paul Sherwen would characterize as "serious argy-bargy." Race officials, though, ruled that Veelers veered into Cavendish's line as Cavs was leaning left to prepare for a corner. No foul.

One of the best sprinters in Tour history, Robbie McEwen, has been on both ends of similar battles but came to Cavs' defense, tweeting:
"What happened with @markcavendish & Veelers was an accident. Cav sprinting & Veelers looking down drifted right. Looks like Tom is ok"
In other words, "That's hockey, boys. Play on."

Cavs has been relegated for dangerous sprinting at the Tour previously, most recently in 2011, and was in the middle of a serious pileup at the 2010 Tour de Suisse that ended Heinrich Haussler's season. In fact, Haussler hasn't been the same since that crash. Cavendish can be outspoken on matters great and small. A few days ago, he threw a temper tantrum on the team bus for all to hear after missing out on a sprint.

That doesn't give a fan the right to denigrate him. Then again, the Tour is free and open to all. Reports from the team indicate that this happened just once. So one weirdo among more than 100,000 spectators on the open roads took matters into his own hands. We wonder what the spectators standing around this malcontent thought. Let's just hope they didn't take matters into their own hands as well.

Lefevere reported that Cavs was sad, rather than angry. By evening, however, he was publicly trying to lighten the mood on Twitter:
"Well i think the apple juice looks far from appetising for me tonight... And I'm not taking the piss. Did that once already today. #standup"
Just as the riders have left Mont-Saint-Michel in their rearview mirrors, the rest of us should move on. But remember: Sprint crashes are inevitable; urine throwing is not.