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Bob Stapleton and Rolf Aldag (r) still enjoying the team’s success from stage 1.
Stapleton and Aldag speak out on Australian's Tour expulsion
Bob Stapleton heard that Mark Renshaw had been kicked out of the Tour de France as he returned to the HTC-Columbia bus after seeing Cavendish win the sprint from just beyond the finish line.
His satisfaction of seeing his team take a third stage victory in this year's race quickly turned to disappointment and frustration, however.
Having seen one replay of the sprint when he spoke, Stapleton stood by Renshaw when asked by Cyclingnews if it he thought it had been a dangerous sprint. "I think this is a hard sport, with hard men in it," he said.
"You've got to fight and hold your position, that's the safest thing to do. They're sprinting down this road at 70km/h and guys are colliding. I wouldn't be quick to point blame. I didn't see anything that was obviously unsafe. It didn't look pretty but he had his hands firmly on his bars and was holding his position. I think that's what you're supposed to do."
Stapleton did not agree with Renshaw's expulsion from the Tour de France due to the incident.
"I think it's inappropriate to take him out of the race but we don't make that decision," he said. "There's no alternative to accepting the decision. I can't do anything about it and not even have a discussion about it."
Team manager Rolf Aldag made one last chance to try and convince the race judges to overturn their decision. He and directeur sportif Alan Peiper went to see the UCI judges in the race headquarters. They argued with the judges for 15 minutes but came away angry and disappointed.
"These are just old guys making bad a decision and you can quote me on that," Aldag said as he left the race headquarters.
"I ask myself on what basis did they decide to kick out Mark? A few days ago a rider stopped at the finish, took his wheel out of bike and hit another rider with it. All he got was a 300 Euro fine. Today Renshaw tried to stay on his line and gets mobbed over by Dean.
"I'm not saying he shouldn't be fined but he's been put out of the race. That's just so wrong. They say Dean made a mistake too but he didn't get fined," he said.
Aldag questioned the balance and equality in the way the judges have punished riders at the Tour de France.
"The judges, especially this year, have not established a real clear line on how and what they decide. I have to be critical of that," he said.
"Last year Mark Cavendish lost his chance to win the green jersey for moving 50cm off his line but it was less than Julian Dean did today.
"We cannot change their decision, we have to live it but they're really hurting the sport if the rules aren't clear. How can a rider understand what they can and can't do? Dean probably believes he can now get away with something like every time."