Carlos Barredo (Quick Step) and Rui Costa (Caisse d’Epargne) shook hands and made up following their violent finish-line scrum in Friday’s stage, but Robbie McEwen (Katusha) was still irate following his crash after crossing the line in Friday’s sprint.
McEwen was knocked off his bike by a TV cameraman chasing stage winner Mark Cavendish after the sprinters barreled across the line. The cameraman was kicked off the Tour for one day, but McEwen said before Saturday’s start he’s still steaming.
“One idiot jumped between the journalists and ran into me head-on while I was doing 60kph because I had just come over the line. What happened yesterday is unacceptable,” McEwen said before the start. “I am really hurt. I have injured my lower back, my shoulders, my neck. I already had one crash to contend with and I am still in contention for the green jersey. That just shouldn’t happen.”
McEwen criticized the amount of journalists, photographers, TV cameramen, team and race officials and even fans who clog the finish-line area after every stage, saying it needs to be better controlled and the numbers reduced.
Tour chief Christian Prudhomme spoke with McEwen before the start of the stage and suggested the cameraman formally apologize to McEwen. He said that wouldn’t make much difference now.
The day’s other ruckus ended on more peaceful terms.
Barredo and Costa came to blows at the end of Friday’s stage. The two were already going at each other during the stage, when Barredo claims Costa elbowed him with 20km to go in an effort to move Caisse d’Epargne’s sprinter José Rojas up to the front of the group.
A photograph in L’Equipe published Saturday showed Costa punching Barredo in the back of the head just moments after crossing the line. An enraged Barredo unlatched his front wheel and attacked Costa, and both fell to the ground after coming to blows.
The pair talked on the phone after the stage and said they’ve forgotten the incident.
Costa gave his version of events: “Nothing like that’s ever happened in my life. It all started at the end of the stage, when the riders were looking to get in good position for the final sprint. I was going easy, like always, when Barredo came past me on my left, almost knocking me on the ground. I complained and told him he should look where he’s going because it wasn’t the first time he’s done something like that to me.
“Carlos didn’t like that, he insulted me, and gave me a punch on my left leg. After the stage, Carlos came up to me with a loud voice. I tried to avoid him. Later, he came after me with a wheel to attack me and then everything happened just like everyone saw.
“Later, on the bus, Carlos called my teammate Rojas and asked to speak with me, asking for forgiveness and admitting that he was wrong. I did the same thing and now everything’s forgotten. I now ask everyone to pardon me for my reaction, but they have to understand that it was difficult to just stand there when you’re getting a beating and not reply. I limited myself to defending myself.”
Barredo also gave his side of the story: “I can ask for forgiveness from all cycling fans for my pathetic fight, there’s no excuse for my attitude. I’ve already spoken with Rui and that’s the end of that. Things like that just happen during the race, with tension and stress.
“I want to thank everyone for the message of support that I received because I really feel badly. It’s not the image that I want to give to cycling. I hope to give everyone another reason to talk about me during this Tour de France.”