The leader of the mountains classification in the Vuelta a San Juan, Tomas Contte (Argentina), has been disqualified from the race for excessive assistance from his team after a crash on Wednesday’s stage 4.
Contte was surprisingly not at the start of stage 5, and in the jersey of the mountains classification leader was Manuele Tarozzi (Green Project-Bardiani CSF Faizanè). Contte explained what happened on his Instagram page.
“I was involved in a fall with approximately 40km to go. Where my bike was affected, more precisely its rear derailleur. Normally in any professional race as we can see in Grand Tours, the rider is assisted by his mechanic from above the aid car,” he wrote.
Either getting his rear derailleur fixed on the fly or sheltering behind a caravan vehicle afterward, apparently, didn’t go down well with the jury, who decided to eject Contte from the race.
As written, the UCI rules give leeway for riders to get assistance after a crash or mechanical, with officials able to choose from three levels of fines or time penalties for riders who they feel draft excessively, but disqualification is an option “in serious cases”.
The practice of mechanics assisting from the team car has been increasingly frowned upon, but under the rules it reads as if penalties are mainly levied upon the driver of the team car and/or other licence holders, normally the mechanic or sports director involved in the repair.
Again, they have a provision for “serious cases” – repeated infringement, aggravating circumstances, or if the action gives an advantage to the rider, the jury may eject the licence holder, but it is unusual to apply this to the rider.
The UCI officials have been strict so far this season. At the Tour Down Under, the jury disqualified James Knox (Soudal-Quickstep) after stage 1 for excessive drafting during his attempt to return from a crash.
Knox argued that he was delayed by the necessary checks under the concussion protocol, and should have been given more leeway to get assistance from the slipstream of the convoy to rejoin the peloton.
After he remounted and began chasing, the officials formed a barrage, keeping him from drafting for “more than a couple of kilometres”, Knox said.
“Hoping to continue in a race I’ve travelled around the world to partake in and still has four days remaining, I watched from behind, as other crashed riders were allowed to stay behind their cars to rejoin the race as you would expect. I have to accept my own responsibility for…
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