Luke Rowe (Team Ineos) and Tony Martin (Jumbo-Visma) have issued statements objecting to being expelled from the Tour de France after a few tense interactions ahead of the stage 17 final climb on Wednesday, taking responsibility for their actions and apologising to each other, the fans and the Tour de France after being ejected from the race.
Both teams intend to appeal the decision of the race jury to disqualify Rowe and Martin.
Rowe and Martin had a series of clashes at the head of the peloton, with Jumbo-Visma team leader Steven Kruijswijk saying they felt Ineos did not appreciate his team controlling the race. Rowe tried to play down the incidents, saying "We're both doing the same role. We just got in each other's way. That's bike racing. It's all good."
The race jury disagreed, and after reviewing footage that showed Martin swerving, causing Rowe to ride off the road, Rowe raising his hand to Martin's face and then both riders shoulder to shoulder at the front of the peloton as they clashed for a third time.
The pair were ejected from the Tour de France, fined 1000 CHF and docked 50 UCI points under Article 8.2.1 of the UCI rule book that prohibits "assault, intimidation, insults, threats, improper conduct [including pulling the jersey or saddle of another rider, blow with the helmet, knee, elbow, shoulder, foot or hand etc], behaviour that is indecent or that endangers others".
Rowe and Martin apologised for the incidents and accepted responsibility. They said the clash happened in the heat of the moment as both riders were trying to get their team leaders into position.
"It's one of the biggest sporting events in the world with a lot of publicity. I just want to say sorry to so many people," Rowe said. "Obviously to Tony and the Jumbo-Visma boys, but also to the Team Ineos fans and my family. I've let a lot of people down but most of all the seven guys out there, my teammates, who are going to battle the last three days and I won't be able to help them."
Martin added, "It's still a big shock. I feel super bad and sad. Leaving the team at this important part of the race, we're fighting for the podium in Paris. Leaving the team this way is really bad and I think also a hard decision from the jury but so far we have to accept it. It's a bad feeling."
Rowe added that the jury make the decisions and as athletes they have to live with it. "I do feel like it was a bit over the top. I spent the best part of an hour in the UCI van with the videotapes. I was trying to fight my battle but I was also trying to fight Tony's. It's too much. What we did wasn't right, it was wrong for sure, but that does happen in the sport of cycling numerous times a day. I think it was a bit over the top to send us both home. I feel hard done by, but it's something we have to live with."