Tour sans Sagan: a comedy of errors?

So, believe it or not, the Tour is still happening. 😀 And UCI has extended their palmares of errors.

At least they corrected the most recent misstep — AFTER the video footage showed clear evidence of their mistake. (Was it really a mistake? Don’t answer that.)

Here’s what happened: UCI penalized 3 riders after stage 12 for picking up water bottles within 10k of the finish line, apparently a no-no. Problem for UCI came when video footage showed the stage 12 winner, French AG2R rider, Romain Bardet, also took a water bottle within 10k. That means, UCI had to either penalize the stage winner (and a  Frenchman, remember), or reverse the penalties on the other rides.

UCI chose to reverse the penalties and they issued a statement explaining that there was lack of water available to the riders before the last climb so due to these conditions, they were reversing the penalties to those 3 riders and the original finish results for stage 12 were reinstated. (I agree with this decision, possibly only because I’m also a fan of all of the riders involved.)

But how fun that this came up! Because there’s something that’s crossed my mind many times since stage 4 on July 4th.

If I close my eyes and allow my mind to really stretch and consider that just supposing the TdF jury rethinks their decision on the stage 4 incident (I said it’s a stretch!), what would be a fair and feasible way to make amends?

Well, as luck would have it, we can look at the 2015 Vuelta a Espana for some ideas.

At the 2015 Vuelta, Peter Sagan suffered cuts and burns to his leg when he was hit by a neutral race motorbike. After his heated reaction, he was fined by UCI for abusive language and for “behavior that damages the sport of cycling.” (Seems like a pretty natural response to get upset when you get hit by a vehicle, let alone in an officiated race where you don’t expect to be hit by a vehicle and where you were a favorite to win the race. It just seems like something that might have been forgiven. Again, it’s a stretch.)

In response to the penalty, though, Sagan’s Tinkoff-Saxo team sent an open letter to race organizers and UCI that included 5 requests, summarized as follows:

  1. A public apology for the motobike incident.
  2. A donation to the charity of team’s choice.
  3. Take concrete measures to improve safety for the riders.
  4. Revoke the fine to Sagan.
  5. A review of the rules for motobike drivers.

I think a public apology (for making the DQ decision without allowing the rider to defend his position as rules state) and a donation to the charity of the team’s choice would represent a good start for the 2017 Stage 4 DQ incident. I might also add:

  1. Initiate a review of the rules around disqualifications, possibly requiring a period of time to wait for evidence to be adequately reviewed.
  2. Fine Dimension Data team managers for acting unsportsmanlike in their accusations on social media (because seems damaging to the sport of cycling to NOT call that out).

And one more thing: Penalize Bouhanni a chunk of his Green Jersey points (I say 50) for his stage 10 behavior.

I know we’re in fantasy land right now, but what do you think?



Tour de Sagan: what would Tinkoff do?

Yesterday I mentioned French sprinter Nacer Bouhanni used to be a boxer. I should have said he still is a boxer.

In stage 10 of the TdF,  the Cofidis rider decided to “strike” a Quickstep Floors rider and later cut off another Quickstep rider.  “Oh wow!” you might be thinking, “a SECOND guy DQ’d from the Tour!”

“Oh sorry,” I would reply, “that would be too logical.”

From the UCI jury, Bouhanni got a $200 fine (I’ve seen library late fees higher than that), a 1 minute penalty (irrelevant for a sprinter), AND he kept all his green jersey points (the one place it might have hurt).  Sigh…

I wonder what Oleg Tinkoff would say?

Oh, I know…

“In a perfect world, I don’t see the UCI at all in this game. I think they should run the Olympics, the world championships, and maybe some youth sports.”       — Oleg Tinkoff, former owner and sponsor of Tinkoff cycling team*, in 2016 interview with NBCSports)

To be perfectly fair, it’s not exactly the same context, but I think it still applies.

You can watch the 2016 NBCSports interview with Tinkoff  here (it’s a real treat!) or read the transcript  here, and then decide for yourself.

And in case you’re wondering….







*Peter Sagan raced for Tinkoff cycling team 2015 – 2016.