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Nibali’s Drive Too Far

Vincenzo Nibali Vuelta

Vincenzo Nibali has been disqualified from the Vuelta after he was caught holding onto the Astana team car and the driver, Aleksandr Schefer, has been thrown of the race too.

President of the race jury Bruno Valčić said it was a hard decision to take but to have taken any other would have been harder. In a late night Facebook update (translation here) the Italian champion tried to rationalise it saying he wasn’t the first and won’t be the last to do this and he was only trying to make up for lost time. But he was caught twice over, first with irrefutable TV images and second because the attempt was so outrageously advantageous to him. There are times when you can bend the rules but this went too far.

Cycling has some grey areas where the rules say one thing and practice does another. If there’s a crash you can sometimes draft a team car and surf the convoy to get back, the idea is there’s some moral justification when you have crashed, you lost time waiting for a bike and perhaps you’re injured too. The commissaires may tolerate this – note the conditional – because none of this brings a free ride, it merely saves energy and thus reduces the cost of the crash, it mitigates rather than distorts the contest. However a line is crossed when a returning rider starts to use their team car for obvious, extended and exclusive advantage. Nibali’s taxi ride went too far:

  • he wasn’t drafting but he was riding and therefore not completing the course under his own steam but instead relying on the team car to tow him
  • the televisual evidence meant the public wanted the issue resolved especially as social media can relay the images in an instant and certainly before the race jury retires for the night
  • getting ahead of all the other riders will only have angered those riders also delayed by the crash but without the temerity, or just the team car, to hitch a high speed ride back so he’ll have had little support from others who were dropped nor sympathy from the jury

Many riders get help from the team car but heavy sanctions are rare. In the 2014 Tour de France J-J Rojas was thrown off the race after he was dropped on the Tourmalet but used the Movistar team car to get towed back to the peloton, not so much correcting a mishap but actual cheating. A more subtle case came in Paris-Nice that year when several riders were caught in a crash including green jersey wearer Gianni Meersman. As some grouped to chase back Meersman found the OPQS team car and sat behind it like he was on a high speed motorpacing session. Meersman’s sin wasn’t to slipstream, it was the fact that he used this for his exclusive advantage and it was all on TV too so the commissaires had to act. He was docked time and points as a consequence. Nibali though didn’t draft, he was holding onto to a car, a higher level of cheating.

Claude, do your job and give him a 20 second penalty. Otherwise he’ll be three minutes down.”

That’s Spanish team manager José-Miguel Echevarri who was confronted by UCI Commissaire Claude Deschaseaux in the 1990s for pacing Armand de la Cuevas back to the peloton, as explained in L’Equipe during July. In some cases the rules are so weak they incentivise cheating: a sticky bottle may bring a time penalty measured in seconds yet not doing it could cost minutes. The professional choice is obvious.

As well as inconsistent rules there’s the inconsistent application. Richie Porte got that time penalty in the Giro because it happened right in front of a commissaire but a few days before Gianni Meersman, him again, got a wheel from Team Sky only nobody saw it so it wasn’t punished. There will always be blindspots. What frustrates more is the connivance sometimes of the commissaires, take Paris-Roubaix where riders ignored the closed level crossing barriers only to see the officials invent rules on the spot. You can understand the need to keep a race flowing and there can’t be breaks in play like a football game but once officials start to interpret the rules they’re supposed to uphold then don’t be surprised if riders want to pick and choose too.

Nibali’s Facebook apology shouldn’t be parsed too keenly for every word as it was typed late at night when he was confused but the broad “other people get away with it sometimes” message isn’t helpful. It implies that because some get away with breaking the rules it’s unfair that he gets caught. Reductio ad absurdum imagine a murderer deploying this defence strategy. His team look bad too and if Shefer is thrown off the race it Giuseppe Martinelli was riding in the passenger seat and surely complicit.

Just as Nibali is annoyed, the frustration for outsiders is that cycling has many unwritten rules. Yet there’s nothing wrong with implicit codes and practices. Your household functions more efficiently without a 200 page rulebook. The problem with unwritten rules is not that they’re unwritten but that they change. Compile a rulebook for cycling and it would resemble a palimpsest as attitudes come and go from season to season and intepretations vary according to the scenario, a two second sticky bottle could be critical but another day maybe we overlook the 20 second tow? The how and why are hard to codify. Holding onto a car which then accelerates away from everyone else is visibly wrong and once video evidence emerges, especially if it appears within hours, means that a rider is going to be judged and punished.

Conclusion
You can bend the rules but not break them. This flexibility frustrates at times as some rules are more brittle than others. A sticky bottle is tolerated sometimes but holding onto a car is not so where do they draw the line? Well you tend to know it when you see it. Had Nibali merely opted to draft his team car, even at outrageous speed, he’d probably be starting the Vuelta’s stage today and facing no more than a few jokes and raised eyebrows. Instead he’s out of the race and the video of him and his team cheating is being shared around the world, turning a disappointing season into a humiliation. It’s all the more awkward for a rider fuelled by pride and who has tried to differentiate himself from the scandals in the Astana team by citing his own reputation. Facebook justifications only go so far, can the Tour of Lombardy save his season?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Steppings Monday, 24 August 2015, 12:36 pm

    This sort of thing was so so common practise especially when a big name needed a lift, before we had the judge jury and executioner of social media and many more peeps watching via different platforms. Great race loses a great rider before the whole show has warmed up.

    • ccotenj Tuesday, 25 August 2015, 2:08 pm

      following that logic, any contender that gets dropped should be allowed to have the team car pull them back to the pack… after all, we need to keep the great riders in the race…

      simply because it may have been common in “the good old days” does not make it right… or are you proposing that it is ok to cheat as long as nobody is looking?

  • Spofferoonie Monday, 24 August 2015, 1:04 pm

    Simply put, this was just too blatant to be ignored, especially when it was someone who might have been an overall contender (at least stage 2 sorted out who Astana’s leader is for the Vuelta).
    Had it been a sprinter/rouleur/domestique they might have got away with it (although why they’d bother trying it is a whole different question) but for Nibali to do it was just gormless. Not a vintage year for Astana – lost the Giro despite having far and away the most dominant team, barely turned up for the Tour (and didn’t exactly distinguish themselves with their behaviour – bottle thrown at Froome for a crash he didn’t cause and a perfectly reasonable attack during Froome’s mechanical tarnished by Nibbles declining to admit that, yes, he saw Froome in trouble but, as I was so far down, I didn’t think it mattered), and now this. Still, no positives.

    • Anonymous Monday, 24 August 2015, 1:37 pm

      The last thing they need now is a positive!

    • Moneyfire Monday, 24 August 2015, 3:18 pm

      I think your point about why a sprinter/rouleur/domestique would try is the crux of the penalty. There are only a handful riders in the race who are incentivized to cheat this badly and they are all GC aspirants. Without the tow Nibali’s race was essentially over yesterday and his cheating was a calculated risk that whatever penalty he received wouldn’t have been as severe as the time differential for finishing in that group. It strikes me that all the talk of culture and double standards is a red herring in this instance.

      • Doubter Tuesday, 25 August 2015, 12:14 am

        ….and stinks of jingoism to boot……
        Will the Sky drones ever stop?

        • Anonymous Tuesday, 25 August 2015, 12:51 am

          No, they won’t..

        • Chris Tuesday, 25 August 2015, 5:44 am

          The Sky drones are definitely the problem that needs to be discussed here. Will they ever stop?

      • jonnie Tuesday, 25 August 2015, 2:05 pm

        If that is the case why did he admit he would have been happy to accept a 10 minuite time penalty for the tow when finishing with the group he decided to hitch a ride and leave would have probably cost far less than that.

  • Sam Monday, 24 August 2015, 1:18 pm

    I think Nibz head has been somewhere else since all the positives last year and the licence biz

    I don’t think he’s been at all tranquillo since last summer

    • dave Monday, 24 August 2015, 3:13 pm

      +1

      it must be hard though as he’s just 30 but must know in his heart that despite winning Tour (and impressively) and more GT’s than Froome, Quintana put together, he’s not really in their league, and soon may even be below a few others (Landa, Aru, even TGV/Porte) so what does he do?

      he’s forced to continue justifying a massive pay check when the options are;

      a) try and take them on at TDF knowing he’ll need a bit of luck but more than likely will lose and have Vino breathing down his neck.
      b) avoid them and seek more GT’s via Giro, Vuelta but knowing this will solidify what many already think, ie he’s a tiny bit short of the a-league. *(despite being a phenomenal cyclist who absolutely deserves his palmares)

      similar to Wiggo in a way, who obviously also deserved his TDF, but doubtful any die hard cycling fan would put him above Froome overall in terms of GT contenders……. would still have been very interesting to see who’d have won 2012 were they on different teams.

      All in all it’s not actually that far away from Contador now, even though in his prime he was supernatural (ahem), beating Froome + Quintana at full force may just be that little way beyond him now. Think he may know this despite last years Vuelta. Banking the Giro with the excuse of being tired for the tour was defo a good plan *(although being of a high enough quality to win the Giro anyway is always extremely impressive), so what for next season? Seems like it will be his last, so one last attempt at the TDF is reasonable before bowing out with his reputation as the best of a generation in tact – where really he’s been a shadow of the rider he was pre-suspension for the last 5years and is a couple of steps back on the climbs from the top two – really seems as though he was top dog 07-’10, bit of a free for all in between, Froome top from 13-15? Quintana surely soon to take over.

      I always feel sorry for Cadel Evans – if he wasn’t doping – he was by far the best rider from pretty much ’05 onwards and definitely did not retire with the success he should have had. Amazing his run of top5’s every year between 05/13 against a majority of competitors who are now proven dopers.

      *(if he wasn’t doping) he should have been one of the all time greats.

      D

      • Anonymous Monday, 24 August 2015, 8:55 pm

        All is not well between the relationship of Nibs and the Astana Team. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him jump ship in the off-season, Nibs has always mixed up his races (not just focused on Tour), and likely he’ll be back at the Giro next year if the parcours is favourable. He could do that with an Italian team, without the hassles and drama.

    • Anonymous Tuesday, 25 August 2015, 12:56 am

      I don’t think this incident is anything more than, just like doping, everybody takes a tow from time to time. Just ask Cav how many times he’s done it just to make a cut off. And I’m a fan of Cav. And Nibali.

      But, there is a rule.

  • Willis Monday, 24 August 2015, 1:25 pm

    And then there is the (much harder to prove) abuse of the medical car. I read Chris Horner’s account of how he asked for spray, and then asked for new bandages, and then asked for Advil while holding onto the medical car. This for road rash from a previous stage on the tour. Dragged the whole process out so he could he get dragged up a climb and not get dropped. Crafty little hotel hopper that one!

    • The Inner Ring Monday, 24 August 2015, 1:46 pm

      Certainly ripe for abuse too. The same with mechanicals, nobody is allowed to do repairs from a moving car, the car and rider have to stop beside the road… only it gets ignored a lot.

    • whippet Monday, 24 August 2015, 4:49 pm

      One difference between the medical car or riders in the grupetto is that Nibali was at the front of the group and chasing to get back into the leading group. Also, the incident was shown live by the helicopter feed.

      • Othersteve Monday, 24 August 2015, 7:06 pm

        Agree with Whippet,
        As Inrng masterful used the quote from the US supreme court judge ” I know pornography when I see it” can’t recall which one said it. But one only needs to see the video as Nibali is magically swept away from the chase group! I define fudging as hanging on a medical car for a break, but whisked away at 35 ish MPH uphill toward the lead group, it looked like a take out of roadrunner cartoon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlNclGB2Ms0
        with the other crash group riders as coyotes.

  • Special Eyes Monday, 24 August 2015, 1:27 pm

    Gary Imlach mentioned on tv last night that, on stage 2 of TdF, Nibali lost 1’28” after the crash, and his initial time deficit last night after the crash on stage 2 of La Vuelta was…wait for it…1’28” !

    Did Sky stick the knife in deliberately after the crash ?
    Television footage seemed to show them surging at the front of the peleton immediately after the crash.
    Payback for Croix de Fer ?

    His DQ was justified, as the camera footage was damning evidence.
    This kind of thing probably goes on all the time, but there is bound to be a constant camera on a GC contender at a Grand Tour !

    But, talking of rules, it seems absurd that a crash / mechanical can ruin a rider’s chances like this.
    To have that happen in two successive GT’s is more than cruel. Surely there should be a way round this?

    • Anonymous Monday, 24 August 2015, 1:39 pm

      Get to the front, expect a crash, deal with it because you won a TdF because of Froome being crashed into on stage 3 and breaking his wrist, along with whatever caused Contador to crash.

    • Anonymous Monday, 24 August 2015, 1:40 pm

      If SKY did stick the knife in, I will watch with amusement when the blade is reversed somewhere sometime in the summertime.

    • Sam Monday, 24 August 2015, 1:47 pm

      in the tv pics of the front of the peloton immediately at the crash, Sky were near the front but with a Katusha and a Movistar in front of them

      So unless Sky used a cattle prod to force those guys to lead that front group….

      • Anonymous Monday, 24 August 2015, 2:51 pm

        Sky were on the front a lot of the time.

      • A Nonny Mouse Monday, 24 August 2015, 3:14 pm

        Plus when Sky did get to the front the cameras panned back to show other riders rejoining. Although it would have been extremely karmic had they pushed on knowing that Nibali was behind, I doubt they did.

        • The REAL A Nonny Mouse Monday, 24 August 2015, 11:13 pm

          Stop using other people’s handles – that’s Nibali’s job.

          • A Nonny Mouse Tuesday, 25 August 2015, 1:45 pm

            Sorry – I’ve used this name on plenty of other websites – and seen it used by other people: it’s hardly uncommon.

            Plus I wanted to distinguish myself from the other Anonymous.

    • Jef Monday, 24 August 2015, 2:43 pm

      Contador’s heroics on the Mortirlo this year were only necessary because Astana upped the pace after he’d suffered a mechanical. It’s something that often happens when one of the contender’s is in trouble and all the teams have done it. It wasn’t like Froome was burning out his team in a personal vendetta against Nibali either – Katusha and Movistar were definitely sharing the work on the front.

    • Anonymous Monday, 24 August 2015, 2:52 pm

      Get a bike from a team mate. Oh, they’ve all gone.

  • Ben Monday, 24 August 2015, 1:36 pm

    As the saying goes, “You make your own luck.” In stage races that means you have to have the great legs and teammates to both stay in front of most of the crashes and to recover from any you’re still caught up in. It seems Mr Nibali’s not been making much new luck since TDF’14 , and its properly run out now.

  • Sam Monday, 24 August 2015, 1:53 pm

    Nibz blaming Caleb Ewan for causing the crash. Brian Nygaard on Twitter pointing out to him that Ewan was at the back when it happened (near the front of the race), and didn’t cause the crash

    Nibz needs to start taking his lumps. This all only adds to impression of unclass.

    • Larrick Monday, 24 August 2015, 4:16 pm

      Added to his Froome rant at the TdF he’s fast becoming the Snark of Messina….

      • Augie March Monday, 24 August 2015, 4:44 pm

        Good call.

      • Sam Monday, 24 August 2015, 4:45 pm

        *applause*

      • Lanterne Vert Monday, 24 August 2015, 4:58 pm

        +1

      • Vitus Monday, 24 August 2015, 9:27 pm

        Only that it was Froome who accused Nibali back then. You could know that without Sky sunglasses on

        • Cosa Nostra Monday, 24 August 2015, 11:26 pm

          And the bottle-throwing incident over the crash which took out Tony Martin?
          You could know that without, etc. etc. etc.

        • Larrick Tuesday, 25 August 2015, 1:44 am

          Sorry!

          Nibali accused Froome of causing the crash but as Froome hadn’t, he went to Astana bus, watched the replay with Nibali and His Nibs apologised.

          I don’t have any sunglasses on, too much rain about…… but maybe you should check your facts before getting personal.

      • His Nibs Monday, 24 August 2015, 11:18 pm

        Better reception here than in The Other Place 🙂

        • Larrick Tuesday, 25 August 2015, 2:26 pm

          Two shots at glory…. just call me AC….um….er…..FCH…….

    • Anonymous Monday, 24 August 2015, 7:19 pm

      – 1

      • Anonymous Monday, 24 August 2015, 10:17 pm

        -11

    • MikeF Tuesday, 25 August 2015, 7:57 am

      Orica’s video producer has pointed out that you can see where Caleb Ewan was in the GoPro footage of the crash released by Velon (still from ~1’39” in the video – the Tinkoff rider has already unclipped, and David Tanner is crashing)

      https://twitter.com/ozDanJones/status/635940965807624192

  • Andy Dawson Monday, 24 August 2015, 2:08 pm

    A thoughtful piece but it does highlight a problem with cycling – these “unwritten rules” and grey areas. It feels like the peloton are allowed to police themselves and that the race organisers and judges are too close to the riders and teams. This is an international sport worth £millions – why should there be “unwritten rules”? What other sport has “grey areas” and referees who turn a blind eye?

    • The Inner Ring Monday, 24 August 2015, 2:26 pm

      Indeed but what other sport has so many paticipants spready over such a large public space? It’s very hard to enforce all the rules on everyone. So making an example of some can help, even if others will still try their luck.

      • Adam Tuesday, 25 August 2015, 6:20 am

        I am sure the new GPS systems could analyse Km’s per hour vs gradient /watts or something to see if a rider is catching a a lift etc..

    • Rod Monday, 24 August 2015, 2:37 pm

      A ton of sports have grey/appreciation areas.

      All the judged sports, basically. Which is why they are so prone to corruption. See Ice Skating and Speed Walking.

      But also american football (“football move after reception”), baseball (all balls and strikes are eye judged, and there’s at least one irate player regarding that per game), soccer (foul or not?) and so on. The main problem is not so much subjectiveness but inconsistency.

      Maybe cycling is turning the corner on this – the French DQ in the tour for riding the car was blatant as well and punished. So maybe we’ll get more enforcement now.

      • Andy Dawson Monday, 24 August 2015, 7:57 pm

        I think there’s a problem with the role of race commissaires – they seem to have a split function of 1) helping the riders get down the road/helping the event “work”, and 2) being a referee – there’s a conflict possible in those 2 activities. And then how many commissaires are there for a big event? How many does the Vuelta have? May be we just need more of them? What other sport allows competitors at this level to go unmonitored?
        I love all the jokes about Nibali but we as fans should also be showing our support for what the Vuelta has done. Well done them – the event is bigger and better than any one cheater.
        On this grey area thing – the whole of pro-cycling seems to be one big “grey area” – we’re not talking here about judgements of split seconds or millimeters. In cycling there’s whole activities that sound ill-defined and open to interpretation – Nibali is no doubt wondering why he was thrown off for doing something he’s done many times before…”it’s not fair, I did it all the way through the Tour de France….boo hoo”

        • UHJ Monday, 24 August 2015, 11:14 pm

          UCI has this regulated too: art. 1.2.116, page 41 here: http://www.uci.ch/mm/Document/News/Rulesandregulation/16/80/73/1-GEN-20150313-E_English.pdf
          These are minimum setups, the organiser is free to use more.
          For a GT the jury will be 4 persons but generally all working in and around the race in progress are commissaires at one level or another; Voiture balais, Radio Tour, neutrals (well, perhaps not neutrals) but moto commissaires galore and probably 1-3 blackboard motos, information motos etc. Believe me, there are plenty of commissaires at a race at this level. Even drivers – which shall be licensed – can often be local commissaires.
          You could employ more commissaires but more commissaires means more vehicles in the race and more money to be paid… you get the picture.
          I do find myself in dilemmas now and then but you should remember that these decisions are always taken after carefull consideration and with the conscent of the organiser. It is the result of teamwork, the jury president is basically only the deliveryman/-woman of the team.

  • MC Monday, 24 August 2015, 2:10 pm

    Unwritten rules, blindfolded judges or is it just omerta?
    As long as there’s no TV coverage (relayed by social media) nothing is “wrong”…
    This is a frustrating point of view, where you get a glimpse of the backstage, realizing that professional sport is a show business that must go on by any means.

    I’ve been observing for quite a while now, that TV broadcasting cuts or switches to another scene to avoid scandalous images, as a nude chest (nipples you know), but also to minimize the live depiction of potentially dangerous spots (every crash will of course be broadcasted in slow-mo).

    Another aspect are the big bunch crashes that happen mostly during the first race week of the big tours. We need a kind of safety car, yellow flag, etc. No other sports “drive by” wounded athletes lying on the ground like this to focus on the spared lucky leader.
    Bicycling is “hard” by definition, but the victims of these big crashes have just lost playing Russian roulette.

  • Anonymous Monday, 24 August 2015, 2:26 pm

    The truly sad thing about this event are the other riders who, albeit from a helicopter view, appear dejected and seem to sit up as the front of that group starts to accordion fold.

    Hard for Nibali to justify his move when there was such a large group all legitimately trying to pace themselves back and he just zips off the front like that.

    • Special Eyes Monday, 24 August 2015, 2:36 pm

      To be fair to Nibali and his three Astana team mates that were trying to pace him back to the peleton, there was a growing gaggle of riders that hitched on to the back of them. And none of them, on the tv coverage that I saw at least, even offered to do a stint on the front to assist.
      It really was like stage 2 of TdF all over again. Nobody was prepared to assist Nibali in getting back.
      He was probably doubly annoyed at this. There was even a Sky rider sat on his wheel at one point, you could almost sense Nibali’s frustration.

      • Rod Monday, 24 August 2015, 2:40 pm

        Yeah, but no one had greater incentive than Astana to get back. So it’s on them to spend the energy. I wouldn’t have helped them either unless I was a GC contender in a tough spot as well. Happens also in the crosswinds, cobbles, etc. Basically, at any split point you get some guys in a tough spot that need to determine whether attempting to chase is worth it. If you’re the guy with the third-most urgency – lucky you! You get at least a partial tow.

      • Lanterne Vert Monday, 24 August 2015, 4:58 pm

        That’s legal though. Annoying, but legal.

  • Larry T. Monday, 24 August 2015, 2:26 pm

    Please, no safety car! No yellow flags neutralizing the races. There’s already been too much of that. You crash you’re likely to lose time, may it ever be so. Nibali certainly has had some bad luck vs 2014, but I’d like to remind him that great champions, especially when wearing the Italian tricolore don’t do things like he did yesterday. It was like he vanished in the video clip – one second he was leading the chase, a second later he simply wasn’t there anymore. Everyone involved in this fiasco certainly knew better than to violate the rules (both written and unwritten) in this blatant fashion. In my view the penalty was more than justified…and this comes from a guy who likes Nibali!!!

    • MC Monday, 24 August 2015, 2:36 pm

      I’ve seen terrible (us american) trailers for the tour de France showing a collection of crashes as if it was a time lapse of a furious (american) football game…
      Ok – maybe no safety car… But after a bunch crash like yesterday I turn off my TV disgusted and not interested anymore about the outcome of the current stage…

      • dave Monday, 24 August 2015, 4:49 pm

        +1/2 – still interested in stage but hate mass crashes.

        interesting opinion.

      • Larry T. Monday, 24 August 2015, 7:18 pm

        I don’t think anyone wants to see carnage but I can’t see how a so-called “safety car” would prevent mass pileups. Things happen too quickly when wheels overlap or too many riders try to fit into too small a space (usually via instructions from the DS via radio earpiece) before some major change in the course, as in climb, road surface, wind, etc. While one can never prevent all these types of crashes, I’ve said before 12 top-tier teams with 4-6 invites at the race promoter’s discretion is enough. A smaller peloton is a safer peloton and I think riders without a DS yelling at them through an earpiece ride more safely as well. While I have no statistics to back it up, it seems that these mass pileups most often happen in the first week of the Grand Tours, before attrition has cut the peloton down to a reasonable size?

        • Joel Monday, 24 August 2015, 8:51 pm

          The safety car should be sponsored by Shimano. Oh, hang on…

          I have to say I belly laughed with incredulity when I saw the tow yesterday, it was like something out of Wacky Races. Bala Dastardly is going to have to think of something to surpass this now if he wants to keep his crown!

          The correct decision was made.

    • Simon Thursday, 27 August 2015, 4:26 pm

      +1 for no safety car.

      I shudder to think about the fact that some of the more ruthless DSs will use this to their advantage. They could easily call a rider in the front group to go down and bring out a safety car because their GC guy/stage hopeful got caught out in crosswinds etc and is dropped (a la Piquet in Singapore but with far worse consequences for everyone involved).

  • Andrew Monday, 24 August 2015, 3:09 pm

    Having publicly called froome a cheat during the tour for being dq’d from giro for holding on to a vehicle then repeating it before the start of the vuelta there was no other option. He does not appear to be the sharpest tool in the shed

  • Adam Monday, 24 August 2015, 3:11 pm

    I remember Andrea Guardini been thrown out of the Giro for holding onto a car but can’t remember if it was with Astana.
    Watching the Florence Worlds, Nibali received motorpacing from the Italian team car for almost an entire lap to get back on. It seemed unsportsmanlike to me at the time.

    • Sam Monday, 24 August 2015, 3:22 pm

      Guardini was with Farnese Vini at the time (2012 Giro). Robbie Hunter, Dominique Rollin and Iban Velasco got booted off for the same offence, and on the same stage (seemingly Guardini had been doing it repeatedly during that Giro till he got chucked off). Thomas De Gendt and Andy Fenn suffered the same fate at the 2013 Vuelta. For all that Nibali’s defenders are huffing and puffing on social media, there are plenty of examples of riders being disqualified for taking tows.

  • MinorinUltras Monday, 24 August 2015, 3:39 pm

    Just wanted to point out that the RIDEmedia translation has been copy-pasted from a translation I (/u/demfrecklestho) posted on reddit yesterday:

    https://www.reddit.com/r/peloton/comments/3i4ptm/nibali_on_what_happened_today_at_the_vuelta/cuda285

    I don’t really care about it getting used by other medias but I wanted to note it’s an amateur work and I have no professional title/experience of any kind as a translator, so I might not have conveyed perfectly the meaning of Nibali’s post (which was rather hard to translate as it was a straight-written rant, so I had to take a guess on what his choice of words implied in some parts)

    • gabriele Monday, 24 August 2015, 4:06 pm

      Fair point. Indeed, the translation (which isn’t bad at all) doesn’t convey properly one of the idea of the text, which is: “the punishment receieved has been fair”. Don’t have time now, but I’ll try to tell why later, if I can find ten minutes.

  • Ken Monday, 24 August 2015, 4:22 pm

    I saw Nibali’s tow and said, “That can’t be right!” Obvious violation giving the rider an unfair advantage. If it involved anyone but a name rider, the decision to eject would have been a no-brainer.

    • Ken Monday, 24 August 2015, 4:25 pm

      Clarification: I saw it on TV.

  • The Wee Hon Monday, 24 August 2015, 4:41 pm

    What makes this incident different from the usual sticky bottle or drafting behind a team car, is that Nibz used the car to accelerate away from the group he was with. You can see on the footage the other riders having a collective “WTF” moment and sitting up, as he “escapes” off the front.
    The race jury has absolutely no choice, other than to DQ him.

  • BianchiBoy Monday, 24 August 2015, 4:47 pm

    Nibali can have no complaints, surely?

    Yes there are grey areas in cycling (drafting, wheel changes, Yellow jersey privileges) but holding onto a car going (to my eyes) about 60mph to get on the back of a peloton?

    As to those trying to bring Froome & Sky into it, come on. I know they’re not the most popular team in the peloton (especially amongst more traditional British cycling fans, ironically) but seriously, what were they expected to do? Nibali wasn’t in the race lead, so no wait from any team was to be expected.

    And as for Niabli? He keeps making bad race calls, IMHO probably down to the immense stress of being a yellow jersey winner who is rightly or wrongly regarded suspiciously (winning a yellow jersey through Contador and Froome’s bad luck; Astana’s doping issues). Having Aru as a Joint leader wouldn’t have helped his Mediterranean temperament either…

  • Simon Denton Monday, 24 August 2015, 7:40 pm

    To me the punishment is acceptable as the footage is so blatant and he is a serious GC contender.

    But it is a fair to point out all the, to my mind, lesser infractions that happen all the time. How about the number of times after a puncture or bike change we see the rider hanging on to the car while the mechanic fiddles with the back brake?

  • shawn Monday, 24 August 2015, 9:05 pm

    Anybody else see Bouhanni’s sticky bottle today (stage 3) inside 30km to go… That was way more than (Nibali’s) 100m, and he then finished second on the stage. I guess we’ll have to wait and see if he gets a penalty for it.

    • Vitus Monday, 24 August 2015, 9:31 pm

      Wait for that until your head turns grey, wont happen….
      Thought the same thing when I saw it. But knew in same moment it was clear he wont get a penalty. And that’s what outrages me. Do penalties against all or let it be.

      • Anonymous Monday, 24 August 2015, 10:39 pm

        Come on – nobody really cares about that. No moral outcries about that one-it isn’t Astana, Katusha or Tinkoff-Saxo. No fun to be had with teams like Cofidis.

        • Doubter Tuesday, 25 August 2015, 12:27 am

          Love it…..

    • Larrick Tuesday, 25 August 2015, 1:55 am

      The difference would be Boo was getting back to the last group rather than ‘riding’ away from one (it looked as much like a chat to make sure he was okay which is normal after a crash where the rider remounts quickly) and we saw the whole of the Boo incident whereas the heli-cam cut away from Nibs whilst he was still being towed uphill so it’s hard to judge who got the longer tow but I’d argue that Boo was at a far smaller speed differential (towed car speed compared to peloton speed).

  • Anonymous Monday, 24 August 2015, 9:38 pm

    Slightly off topic but… I wish they would toss riders for littering, it’s disgusting!

    • The Inner Ring Monday, 24 August 2015, 11:49 pm

      A valid point, it sets a bad example on live TV.

    • Simon Thursday, 27 August 2015, 4:30 pm

      Yep, in this modern day of having more conscience about our environment it is pretty horrible.

  • Stephen Monday, 24 August 2015, 11:10 pm

    really wish some enterprising video/graphic designer could overlay some benny hill music on the hilarious images of Nibali suddenly exploding from the chase..

  • Joe K. Tuesday, 25 August 2015, 3:48 am

    There’s really only one culprit to blame for Nibali being DQd from the Vuelta–and that is Eurosport.

    Unholy and weird antics have always been going on in the peloton, or behind it, but most of us couch potato spectators don’t know about it because it isn’t broadcast live by Eurosport. For those officiating, like commissaires and judges, they take a passive stance, so “See no evil, there ain’t gonna be no evil.” But with Carlton Kirby going on and on about it, in replay after replay–in slow motion–officials-in-charge must act. In the words of Taylor Swift, “Riders just gonna ride, haters just gonna hate.”

    • Chris Tuesday, 25 August 2015, 5:54 am

      I’m going to plead Poe’s Law here. I just can’t tell.

    • Vitus Tuesday, 25 August 2015, 7:42 am

      So now a broadcasting station is to blame, cause it bought the rights from organizers ASO to broadcast and do so? Holy….

    • garuda Tuesday, 25 August 2015, 8:27 am

      I blame Eurosport for unleashing Kirby.

    • betabug Tuesday, 25 August 2015, 11:03 am

      As commentor “Tintinbike” yesterday pointed out rightly, as soon as the camera in the helicopter noticed what was happening, it zoomed out and the producer switched to something else.

    • Motes & Beams Tuesday, 25 August 2015, 3:35 pm

      “Haters just gonna hate” but Joe K. hating on Eurosport and Carlton Kirby is just fine and dandy, right?

  • Pierre-Jean Tuesday, 25 August 2015, 10:40 am

    One things that strikes me is how some fans and commentators expect commissaires (or organisers) to be sympathetic and understanding of the circumstances that motivate a rider’s decisión to bend or break the rules. No. I think this is not understanding the (crucial) role sympathy plays in cycling. Sympathy is for the fans to feel, not for the commissaires or organisers. In fact, it is quite the opposite: it is because there is an absolutely merciless Henri Desgrange-like authority running the race, that riders deserve the spectator’s compassion and empathy (and admiration) for coping with it. I don’t have any hard feelings on Nibali for trying (I sympathize with the plight of losing the Vuelta just for being on the wrong side of a crash), but I am very happy he got caught and mercilessly expelled. I hope in the future riders will accept to lose 2 minutes instead of trying to get towed.

    • Pierre-Jean Tuesday, 25 August 2015, 10:46 am

      And that’s a second point… Losing 2 minutes doesn’t need to be such a tragedy if the race is devised and raced in such a way that there are serious gaps between the GC favourites in almost every stage, which is perfectly possible. This kind of cheating is less useful when you know you can get those seconds back, tenfold, over the following stages.

      • ccotenj Tuesday, 25 August 2015, 2:02 pm

        how exactly are you going to devise a race that “almost every stage” creates serious gaps between the gc contenders?

        even if you devised a course with 20 “decisive” stages, there is no way they would race it that way, they’d never survive 3 weeks of it…

        it make no sense to try and make a drastic change like you suggest to “lessen the usefulness of this type of cheating”…

        he knows the rules…. the ds knows the rules… they either (looking at it generously) panicked and “forgot”, or (more realistically) gambled that they wouldn’t get the proper punishment for it… to quote the great tony soprano, “a grown man made a wager. he lost.”…

        i also do not understand the logic that others are employing that it was somehow “ok” in “the good old days before tv coverage” to cheat… also the logic that it was somehow ok for him to cheat because no one was helping astana pull him back… why the heck would anyone in that group who was not a gc contender help pull him back? also, someone specifically pointed out a sky rider sitting on nibali’s group and not helping… no kidding… if i was the ds of sky (or movistar, or anyone else with top 5-10 gc ambitions), i would have fired my rider on the spot if they had helped pull nibali back…

        i like nibali… but like him or not, there really isn’t any wiggle room here…

  • Andy W Tuesday, 25 August 2015, 2:29 pm

    Perhaps a precis of the situation might be, in Anglo-Saxon vernacular, that there’s “bending the rules” and there’s “taking the p*ss” !

  • Noel Tuesday, 25 August 2015, 8:59 pm

    ‘…it is found that fair play belongs in cycling’ past…’
    Oh that quote from Vino got a belly laugh from me! The glorious irony of an ex-doper wingeing about how things used to be better… fantastic…

    …except he still has a fairly significant place in the sport now somehow

    • tj Wednesday, 26 August 2015, 3:53 am

      +1

    • Anonymous Wednesday, 26 August 2015, 4:18 pm

      an ex-doper from an era when Everybody doped; it was normal and accepted. Now the public sentiment has become PC and faux moral, but it was, in Vino’s time, completely legit.

  • Biffat Wednesday, 26 August 2015, 9:08 am

    The car was probably doping. They should check dip the tank and check for red diesel.

  • Anonymous Wednesday, 26 August 2015, 4:11 pm

    The peloton could use a Patron who rules with a club. It’s turned into an anarchy of emaciated weasels.

  • Hughie Owen Thursday, 27 August 2015, 9:39 am

    This truly shows how corrupt this sport is. Not only taking performane enhancing drugs behind closed doors, their now resorting to hitching a lift blatantly in front of cameras. Sorry cyclists waste of eurosport airtime.

  • noel Thursday, 27 August 2015, 9:42 am

    ahh – the ‘lots of people were probably doing it so that makes it ok’ defense…