"Use your French"
Our good friend Jean Paul often tells us this. His intent is to kindly instruct us to act a little less like an tightly-wound American and a little more like a tolerable Frenchman. Which means at times, it is appropriate, and far more effective, to break the rules and apologize later. "Ooh, I am sorry, I did not know."It is a good cultural lesson to grasp while in France, and a fun way to remember to "use your French".
Update post post 07/22/11: It happened again today on Stage 19, with a smaller group of riders at the back. They too received another 20-point penalty. This time Rojas was with Cavendish (both were penalized) and Gilbert was not (no penalty). The current green jersey points are Cavendish (280), Rojas (265), Gilbert (230) after Stage 19.
Björn Leukemans #214 (Bel) (Vancasoleil-DCM) was indeed eliminated for coming in outside the time limit on Stage 19 (not a DNF). He was the only rider to be eliminated due to time-limit on Stage 18 and Stage 19 in the Alps. Leonardo Bertagnolli (ITA) (Lampre-ISD) is listed as a withdrawal (DNF) during Stage 18. Complete 2011 Tour de France withdrawal list.