Tour de France 2019: Luke Rowe and Tony Martin apologise after expulsion

Luke Rowe and Geraint Thomas
Luke Rowe (left) is road captain for Team Ineos, whose leader Geraint Thomas (right) is the defending champion and currently second overall

Both Luke Rowe and Tony Martin have apologised after being disqualified from the Tour de France.

UCI commissaires expelled the Team Ineos and Jumbo-Visma road captains after they clashed late in stage 17.

Footage shows Martin almost riding Rowe off the road and the Welshman appearing to retaliate by grabbing the German.

"It feels incredibly harsh," said Ineos team principal Sir Dave Brailsford. "It's nothing more than you see most days of the race."

Rowe's team-mate and compatriot Geraint Thomas is second in general classification, with the defending champion 95 seconds behind Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe.

Martin's Jumbo-Visma team-mate Steven Kruijswijk is third overall, 12 seconds further back, heading into the three mountain stages which will decide the outcome of this year's race.

"I can hold my hand up, it's something I've got to live with," said Rowe, 29, who sat next to Martin in a video released by both teams. "We both made a mistake and have accepted responsibility.

"It was the heat of the moment, it was hot out there and we were fighting for position, myself for Geraint and Egan [Bernal], and Tony for Kruijswijk.

"It's one of the biggest sporting events in the world and I want to say sorry to so many people, including Tony and the Jumbo-Visma boys. I feel like I've let a lot of people down, more so than anyone my team-mates."

Martin added: "I'm really sorry for what happened. I felt bad directly afterwards, but it was the heat of the moment and sometimes this happens in sport."

Ineos have tweeted that both they and Jumbo-Visma are looking to appeal the decision, and the two teams issued a joint statement echoing Brailsford's comments.

"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," the statement read. "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."