Tour de France: Team Ineos' Luke Rowe and Jumbo-Visma's Tony Martin expelled
Ineos team principal Sir Dave Brailsford: "They've made the decision to expel Tony and Luke from the race, which feels incredibly harsh if I'm honest."
Last Updated: 24/07/19 9:52pm
Team Ineos road captain Luke Rowe and Jumbo-Visma's Tony Martin have been expelled from the Tour de France after clashing on stage 17.
Footage showed Martin almost riding Rowe off the road late in the 200km stage from Pont du Gard, with Rowe then retaliating by grabbing the German.
UCI commissaires took the decision to expel both riders after calling them to review video footage after the stage.
The decision could have huge ramifications in the battle for the yellow jersey, with Rowe a key rider for defending champion Geraint Thomas and Martin a big part of Steven Kruijswijk's team.
Thomas sits second overall, 95 seconds behind Julian Alaphilippe, with Kruijswijk in third, a further 12 seconds back.
Team INEOS and Team Jumbo-Visma released a joint statement on Wednesday night that read: "We believe this is a very harsh decision by the race commissaries and against the spirit of what has been such a fantastic race to date.
"It was the sort of incident that merits a fine and a warning but certainly not expulsion from the race - a 'yellow card' but not a 'red'.
"Luke and Tony recognised it for what it was - a minor spat on the road at the end of a sweltering day in the saddle. It didn't affect any other rider and it didn't disadvantage any other team.
"They rode to the end of the stage together where they both shook hands.
"There was no ill will and they clearly still have a lot of respect for one another. We believe it is unjust that their Tour could come to an end over something like this at this point in the race."
Following the race, Rowe said: "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.
"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 of us deserve that. There are a lot of people supporting you, watching you. It's pretty hard."
Ineos team principal Sir Dave Brailsford called the decision "severe".
"They've made the decision to expel Tony and Luke from the race, which feels incredibly harsh if I'm honest," he said.
"I've just had a watch of the clip. There's no doubt about it, Tony cut up Luke a little bit, he's kind of fought for his position a little bit.
"It's nothing more than you see most days of the race. It's a pretty harsh decision.
"I think a yellow card would have been merited but a red card, for both riders in fact, feels a bit severe to me."
Italian rider Matteo Trentin won Stage 17 after pulling clear of a group of breakaway riders to seal his third career stage win at the Tour, but first since 2014.
Kasper Asgreen finished in second place, 37 seconds behind, with Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet completing the podium.