Some thoughts on the Cavendish deal

What follows is hearsay and personal opinion, but as I've seen some confusion as to what happened at the end of Stage 6 with Mark Cavendish losing the stage, I thought I'd try and clarify things as best as I understand:

  • Mark Cavendish crashed and took out pretty much the entire Rock Racing squad, including Cipollini and Rodriguez. The crash occurred during the finishing circuits. Photos
  • Both Cavendish and Cipollini used the assistance of a team car to get back into the pack. Cipollini's mechanic was smart enough to pretend to work on Cipo's seat post. One photographer I talked to witnessed Cavendish holding onto the team car with no mechanic leaning out, then getting waved off by the race referee. It's possible that the mechanic was working on something in the car.
  • Cavendish was penalized 20 seconds, which negated his victory.

Team High Road cited The Levi Rule in protest of Cavendish's 20 second penalty. I feel that the comparison is a bit apples and oranges, regardless of how you feel about the rules being bent in Levi's case. In particular:

  • Levi didn't cause the crash
  • There were no team cars for Levi to hang on to as they had been cleared from the circuit.
  • Levi didn't win the stage, though the overall jersey is more important.

In other words, I think Cavendish's victory was too flagrant to ignore and I think Levi would happily have accepted a 20 second penalty to latch back onto the peloton -- he would have still won the 2007 ToC, though only by one second. In fact, Levi did get a time penalty in the Tour de France getting a water bottle ride from the Disco team car after flatting before a climb. Disco also complained about that penalty, but strategically it was still the right decision.

related articles: Tour of California 2008
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