Mark Cavendish has apologised for an offensive gesture he made at the end of Thursday's stage at the Tour de Romandie. The HTC-Columbia said he made the two-finger salute as a response to critics who had written him off this season. It was only the second win for the sprinter in 2010.
Despite the apology, his team decided to remove him from the race, and in addition it will "direct payment of Cavendish's prize money from his stage win to the international charity Right To Play. Right To Play operates in 25 countries and helps millions of children around the world by teaching them life values and lessons through sport and has been a partner of High Road Sports for the last three years."
The race jury decided to fine Cavendish 6,000 Swiss francs ($5,545) for his actions, a move with which the team agreed.
"I want to publicly apologise for the gesture I made on the finish line of the Tour de Romandie yesterday. I did want to make a statement to my critics, but I realise that making a rude gestures on the finish line is not the best way to do that,” Cavendish said in a statement issued Friday afternoon.
“I apologise to everybody watching the race and especially the kids. I am not proud of releasing the feelings in that way. 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 gesture such as the one yesterday.
International Cycling Union spokesman Enrico Carpani told Cyclingnews that the UCI did not have a comment on the matter at this time. The UCI has no regulations against obscene gestures, although it could punish Cavendish under Section 12.1.006, subsection 2 which calls for a one to six month suspension for a rider who “behaves in such a way as to blemish the image, the reputation or the interests of cycling or the UCI.”
In a case similar to Cavendish's, German Judith Arndt made an obscene gesture as she crossed the finish line of the 2004 Athens Olympics to win the silver medal. She was not disciplined for the action.