Luke Rowe and Tony Martin expelled from Tour de France

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Tony Martin (Jumbo-Visma) and Luke Rowe (Ineos) have been kicked off the Tour de France after an on-road spat on stage 17.

The UCI decision came following a review of the incident after the completion of the stage.

Television cameras showed at least part of the tiff, which occurred towards the end of the stage. Initial TV clips showed only Martin slicing into Rowe, but a longer clip has since surfaced that showed Rowe pulling on Martin.

On an otherwise calm day in the bunch, Jumbo-Visma and Ineos were both positioned at the front of the pack as the peloton rolled onto the final climb, with the day’s breakaway well up the road fighting for the stage win. Coming out of a corner on the right side of the road with Rowe just behind, Martin looked back and then rode to the edge of the tarmac, squeezing Rowe into a tight spot.

Rowe stayed upright and dropped back slightly, and both riders continued on. Rowe then reached up and grabbed Martin.

Julian Alaphilippe, who was behind the incident, addressed it in his daily race leader’s press conference after the stage.

“Everyone wanted to be in the right position,” he said. “But there were a couple guys getting nervous, physical about it. They thought I might attack, I guess, so I went over and told them to calm it.”

Rowe spoke to reporters after the jury’s decision was announced.

“To come here with this team, a bunch of good mates, I feel like I’ve let them down and of course let myself down,” he said. “We were both trying to do a job. Maybe we both overstepped the mark slightly, but it feels harsh to be thrown off the race, both of us.”

Neither rider indicated that the spat had much significance when asked about it right after the stage. Martin did not address the incident. Rowe downplayed it as a non-issue.

“We just got in each other’s way,” Luke Rowe said after the stage. “That’s bike racing. No stress. All good.”

He did not seem interested in dissecting the incident further.

“I don’t know how many Tour de Frances you’ve ridden but it does get a bit tense at times,” he said. “But at the end of the day, you’ve got to have broad shoulders and it’s no problem. We rode the last 10 kilometers of the stage talking to each other.”

Ineos’s team leader Geraint Thomas reinforced the notion that there was nothing to the tiff.

“Luke, Tony Martin, (Imanol) Erviti at Movistar, they all do the same job, they’ve got to get their leaders into a good position,” Thomas said.

“They are always jostling for position and that’s always happening. It’s nothing crazy, really.”

The UCI apparently saw the situation differently. On the eve of a trio of brutal stages in the Alps, Ineos and Jumbo-Visma will both be short one domestique each following the jury’s decision to disqualify Rowe and Martin from the 2019 Tour.

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