On Monday, Ivan Rovny and Gianluca Brambilla traded punches without getting off their bikes, with Tinkoff-Saxo rider Rovny having to change sunglasses after being hit in the face.
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Cycling Central

7 Apr 2015 - 5:20 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:34 PM

Both riders were thrown out of the Vuelta a Espana by race commissaires even though some found the sanction harsh.

After all, they were not the first ones to fight on the bike.

Oleg Tinkov, owner of the Tinkoff-Saxo team, wrote on Twitter: "To eject out of La Vuelta both boxers Rovny and Brambilla is definitely bad decision, I don't mind when boys are fighting, as in hockey. SHOW."

The fight was witnessed by race commissaires, who apparently did not see when Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) punched Philip Deignan (Sky) in the face on Sunday.

"Going over the top of the penultimate climb on Sunday, I had my team leader Chris Froome behind me and was moving up to get into the wheels of the Tinkoff-Saxo train at the front, which I was perfectly entitled to do," Deignan wrote in a column on the Irish Independent's website (www.independent.ie) on Tuesday.

"As we hurtled along in the rain at around 50kph, Katusha's Spanish team leader Joaquin Rodriguez, who is fourth overall, took umbrage to my presence and nudged me out a little bit. So I held my ground and nudged him back,"

"As we continued riding, suddenly, out of the blue, Rodriguez turned towards me and punched me full in the face, splitting my lip and leaving me both stunned and fuming."

Deignan said he restrained himself.

"Thankfully an immediate desire to knock the little Spanish climber out was quelled and I had the restraint and presence of mind to realise that hitting him in such treacherous conditions would only worsen the situation and endanger the riders around us."

Deignan said Rodriguez was brought to his team bus by his sports director to apologise on Monday morning.

"It was more a gesture saying 'what are you doing?'," a Katusha press officer told Reuters by email to explain the incident.

"He did not mean to touch him."

Tensions can run high on the bike, especially between sprint specialists in the final straight.

On Thursday, Maximiliano Richeze elbowed Jacopo Guarnieri in the final sprint of the Vuelta's 12th stage.

In 2010, Australian Mark Renshaw was disqualified from the Tour de France for headbutting New Zealand's Julian Dean in the run-up to the final sprint.

This year, Mark Cavendish escaped sanctions despite headbutting Australian Simon Gerrans in the final sprint of the first stage, which saw the Briton crash and eventually pull out of the race.

Carlos Barredo and Rui Costa featured in the most infamous fight between riders in recent times after a stage of the 2010 Tour de France.

Barredo took his front wheel off his bike and used it to hit Costa, who punched him back as the two riders, who only got a fine, finished the fight on the ground and had to be separated by team members and reporters.