Briton Mark Cavendish blasted his way through four stages of the 2009 Tour de France, impressing French cycling enthusiasts. But his alleged French-bashing could turn fans and spectators against him.
US veteran rider Lance Armstrong is not the only one taking a swipe at France these days. After comments from the US cyclist saying the French resented winners went down badly, it’s now Mark Cavendish who has been accused of indulging in a bit of French-bashing.
According to the French sports daily L’Equipe, French riders have heard Cavendish slam “f**king Frenchies” during the gruelling 2009 Tour de France. Disgusted by a delay at Tarbes airport in southern France on Sunday, the British rider also muttered, “Crap country, always shit,” according to the newspaper.
A French rider, who did not want to be named, said the alleged French-bashing episode showed that Cavendish was “racist” and “anti-French”, before going on to warn, “He’s going to have to be a bit more careful about what he says. We’re not going to let such behaviour pass eternally.”
‘I’m an arsehole, not a racist’
Cavendish has a somewhat different take on what happened. “I don’t understand why people are insinuating such things,” Cavendish told reporters after winning the eleventh stage of the tour. “I try to learn French, I understand it better and better,” he said.
“Sometimes I get angry but it has nothing to do with nationality. I’m not like that. I tried to speak to French riders this morning to understand what happened. Ok, I’m an arsehole, but not a racist.”
Despite the controversy, 24-year-old Cavendish is fighting his third Tour de France and has already won four stages so far, after making spectacular sprints on the finish line. In any case, it looks like the British rider is writing history this year - with fair language or foul.
Date created : 2009-07-16