A call by the cycling union at the Vuelta was rejected by the UCI after a protest delayed the start of the 11th stage on Saturday.
The drivers, led by Ineos and Chris Froome, appealed against the rule change that was made retrospectively after the 10th stage on Friday due to time gaps in which the leadership of the race changed hands and some drivers lost seconds in the overall standings.
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The root of the complaints from the drivers lies in the fact that the time gaps allocated on the stage were judged according to different criteria than originally proposed by the organizers.
The teams had been told that Stage 10 should be handled using the mass sprint stage protocol. On such a stage, groups of drivers are only considered separate if there is a gap of more than three seconds between the last driver in the first group and the first driver in the second group. When the gaps between the groups are smaller, all drivers get the same time. In a phase without the mass sprint protocol, this required gap is reduced to one second instead of three.
The judgment was introduced to increase the number of sprints and allow the participants and support riders of the general classification to fall behind easily and eliminate the risk of falls. And on Friday the teams were informed that the stage at the finish would be driven with the three-second rule.
However, after Primoz Roglic’s victory, race organizers implemented a one-second gap rule, which meant a number of drivers lost more time – Richard Carapaz lost three seconds and Hugh Carthy, for example, lost ten. And the protesting drivers say the race would have been driven differently if the organizers of the race had made this decision at the beginning and not afterwards.
However, just before the end of Phase 11, the UCI confirmed that the ranking would remain unchanged and released a statement stating:
“The 10th stage of the Vuelta was originally identified by the organization as likely ending in a mass sprint.
Given the actual gradient profile of the final kilometer and the fact that there was no sprint goal, provision 5 of the applicable protocol was applied after the race, which allowed the commissioners team to interpret situations as needed and to implement exceptions.
“The calculation of the time gap was therefore kept at the standard value of 1 second. The ranking of the levels and the general classification is retained. ”
“It was a mistake by the UCI and the commissioners,” said EF Pro Cycling’s Michael Woods as the riders delayed the start of the stage on Saturday.
“You first said at the beginning of the stage that there would be a three second gap instead of a one second gap. At the finish there should have been a gap of a second, but that’s what they said at the beginning. But at the finish they changed their mind.
I don’t think that’s fair, I don’t think you can just change the rules on a whim. Because that changes how we would have driven.
“Obviously, Hugh (Carthy) would have crossed the finish line more aggressively and tried to get further into position just so he wouldn’t have to make up for those time gaps. His support would have made it harder to fill a void. ”If you change the rules like that, how you would have driven also changes.
“We spoke with the CPA about raising a protest. I think everyone is on board, including Jumbo Visma, although they wouldn’t benefit from that decision. ”
“It’s such a close GC fight and you see Primoz Roglic and Richard Carapaz driving, and even like Hugh driving next to me and Dan Martin, it’s really close. I think you will see tight time gaps. So three seconds, ten seconds, that is sure to make a difference. ”
Jumbo Visma was the team that had the most to lose from a successful appeal. However, Roglic’s teammate George Bennett said the team supports the principle of protest.
“We support the appeal that it should have been a three-second rule,” he said. “That shouldn’t change much, but it has almost changed who is responsible in the race. It is strange.
“I don’t think too much about it, I have a radio and I’m told what to do. I just have to be there for the stage. Ultimately, my job doesn’t change much either. ”I have to be there with Primoz for the final ascent.
I heard from Ineos that some people wanted to protest. We agree they said it was a three second rule so it should have been a three second rule. And if that means we don’t get the jersey, then we don’t.
“We agree that you should stick to the rules that you said because even people like Hugh Carthy lost ten seconds and he was only a second away from my group.”
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