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Renshaw call irks Cavendish

Mark Cavendish expressed dismay after his chances of winning the Tour de France green jersey were hit by a key team-mate being ejected from the race for headbutting.

Cavendish claimed his third victory of the 2010 Tour and 13th of his career in controversial fashion, as his HTC-Columbia leadout man and room-mate Mark Renshaw was expelled for using his head to out-manoeuvre an opponent.

"I'm very sad," said Cavendish, following his sprint victory on the 184.5km 11th stage from Sisteron to Bourg-les-Valence yesterday.

"Mark gave us a bit of space which kept everyone upright.

"Mark is a great rider and a incredibly good bike handler. He is a clever rider. I am really disappointed with the decision."

Renshaw was disqualified from the remaining nine days of racing for three times using his head to push Team Garmin-Transitions rival Julian Dean out of his line.

Cavendish won by a comfortable margin, with Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese) second and Tyler Farrar (Team Garmin-Transitions) third, but his hopes of winning the points classification title receded with Renshaw's removal.

Dean, who veered from the right of the road to the left, was aiming to lead Farrar to the finish line, but the New Zealander was adjudged to have been impinged by Australian Renshaw in the finishing straight.

Renshaw said: "I'm disappointed and also surprised at this decision.

"I needed to use my head to retain balance or there would have been a crash. If I had used my elbows when Julian brought his elbow on top of mine we would also have crashed.

"The object was to hold my line and stay upright. By no means would I put any of my fellow riders in danger."

The 35 points for victory saw Cavendish move 29 adrift of the green jersey, on 132 points overall.

He lies fourth behind Petacchi, who assumed the 'maillot vert' from Thor Hushovd (Cervelo Test Team) after the Norwegian finished seventh.

Cavendish, who won stages five and six, believes he can overcome the deficit.

"It's still possible," he said.

"There are two or three sprints left in the race, and hopefully I can get more wins."

Ireland's Nicolas Roche finished in 17th without contesting the sprint and remains in 13th position overall, 6 minutes and 23 seconds behind the yellow jersey.

Roche's Ag2r squad are yet to win a stage on this year's Tour and the rider admits the tension is building.

"We've had a few sixth, seventh or eighth places but no top fives and although nobody has said anything, we can feel the pressure building," he said. "My job is to try and stick with the plan to go for the general classification. I'd like to get into a move where I get clear on a tough mountain stage but I will probably have to wait until nearer the end of the Tour."

Today's 210.5km 12th stage from Bourg-de-Peage to Mende features five classified climbs and a breakaway could flourish.

The general classification standings were unchanged by yesterday's events, with Andy Schleck (Team Saxo Bank) retaining the yellow jersey with a 41-second lead over nearest rival Alberto Contador (Astana).