Giro Stage 11 Preview

We’re halfway through the Giro and so far fortune favours the brave with over half the stages rewarding breakaway riders. The stage features laps of a tricky finishing circuit with some steep climbs. Will Richie Porte go on a revenge rampage?

Stage 10 Wrap: a long test of endurance… for television commentators. Hours of riding, minutes of action but that’s a grand tour where some stages are about making steady progress across the country. Lotto-Soudal had been chasing all day and as they approached the finish the time gap wasn’t going down as the day’s breakaway riders kept going, unified by the lack of an obvious sprint candidate. Lotto even put Greg Henderson into the chase but they were almost alone in trying to chase. So the breakaway riders got their chance and Bardiani-CSF’s Nicola Boem won, helped by the exit of the wily Oscar Gatto with a mechanical which left him the fastest on paper. A triumph for Boem who collected the red points jersey and his modest Bardiani-CSF team only forgotten within an hour…

The loser of the day was Richie Porte who suffered a puncture with just a few kilometres to go. He got a wheel change from Orica-Greenedge’s Simon Clarke, presumably in panic and isolation rather than choice, a friendly and generous on the spot offer rather than waiting for team mates to show up. Only it’s against the rules for a rider to get help from another team and the commissaires punished the act with a cash fine and a stinging two minute time penalty. Once up and rolling Porte was struggling to hold the wheels of his team mates in the chase and arrived 47 seconds down on his GC rivals which would have him fourth overall, 1.09 down on Alberto Condator but thanks to the time penalty it’s 3.09 and 12th overall.

It’s the rules but they’re designed to prevent hidden collaboration between teams. For example imagine a breakaway of four riders with two from the same team: one of these two riders punctures and gets a spare wheel not from their team mate but from the third rider in the break who has been promised something. This leaves the fourth rider isolated and caught out. It’s all about preventing hidden alliances and nasty surprises rather than punishing a Good Samaritan act. Where were Porte’s team mates? If he’d had a “bodyguard” by his side this would not have happened.

Let’s skip to Las Vegas for a moment. Writer and thinker Nicolas Taleb once looked at the risks of running a casino and how the management tried to analyse the risks of the business. They spent ages forecasting of the odds of a punter on a lucky streak or a card-counting pro taking the house to the cleaners but for all they calculated these probable scenarios it turned out the biggest risks were things like litigious staff threatening to sue the casino; a staff member being slack with paperwork; or the owner dipping into company funds to pay the ransom on a kidnapped daughter. Moral of the story? Plan for the future but the big risks are the very things you ignored. In cycling terms you can invest in training camps and mobile homes for “marginal gains” to save seconds but printing out a PDF of the rulebook and teaching riders the basic rules of pro cycling on a wet December afternoon could have saved minutes: Chapter 2 of the UCI rules says several times in black and white that you can’t take wheels from another team.

The Route: the race flicks inland for some hills and some of Marco Pantani’s old training roads where there’s not much in the way of flat roads. The sawtooth profile is ideal for a group to get away especially as the finishing circuit makes it harder to chase.

The Finish: three laps of a 15km finishing circuit which includes part of the Imola motor circuit and then climbing up the Tre Monti, 4km at 4% but as the profile shows it’s got steep sections and flat parts. The descent is the same too, in fact the profile doesn’t do it justice because it descends, then rises a little before descending again like some fairground slide and all with some twisting corners which won’t be easy if the forecast rain arrives, in fact read very slippery and aquaplaning if fresh rain arrives just in time to greet the peloton. The finishing straight is on the motor circuit. It was used in the 2009 Italian national championships, the scene of one of Pippo Pozzato’s rare triumphs.

The Contenders: another day, another breakaway winner? The Giro is rewarding those willing to take their chances with five breakaway wins from 10 stages including the opening team time trial. Simon Gerrans is a strong pick given his ability to latch on to a target and today is an ideal chance, the kind of stage he’ll have marked for months. Giovanni Visconti is another rider for a stage like this although when he rode the Italian champs here in 2009 he was third… last. Second in 2009 was Damiano Cunego who had shown great form before the Giro but hasn’t shone that brightly so far. Luca Paolini might also fancy his chances but the Katusha rider has cut a quieter figure his Giro.

I’m curious to see what Davide Formolo can do. A steep climb late in the stage was his launchpad last week and the terrain suits him again here. Diego Ulissi has the nose for a win and a fast finish from a group. Adam Hansen could be let off the leash but this might be a bit too hilly for him. As an outside pick Carlos Betancur has been showing form and can pack a sprint. What can Philippe Gilbert do? La Gazzetta rated riders out of ten yesterday and Gilbert scored a five, the lowest note given, maybe he’ll be out for revenge?

The biggest revenge story has to be Richie Porte. Will he bust open the doors of his caravan and swear for revenge? Probably not straight away but pride might see him launch a move on the final climb.

If it comes down to a sprint it’ll be from a reduced group and Michael Matthews is the default pick, he can deliver a fast finish with more security than most.

Michael Matthews, Diego Ulissi
Formolo, Gerrans, Visconti, Cunego, Lobato, Bardiani-CSF, Betancur

Weather: sunshine turning to rain showers, a top temperature of 23°C

TV: the feed starts at 3.00pm CET with and the finish is forecast for 5.15pm Euro time. Cyclingfans and both have links to pirate feeds with the latter also listing where you can view the race properly too.

The Giro is: polemica! The word polemic comes from the Greek πολεμικός or “polemikós” meaning “in relation to war” and nowadays means a controversial subject. Last year we howled because the rules about red flags weren’t followed by Nairo Quintana and Pierre Rolland, now we howl because they are upheld for Richie Porte. But in between upholding and waiving the rules is a big space with plenty to talk about. Cycling has a looser interpretation of some rules precisely because it takes place on the open road rather than the strict confines of a tennis court or swimming pool. Cycling has a rulebook but the concept of the “moral winner” has existed almost as long as the earliest race, the idea that a rider was the best but was thwarted by bad luck and sometimes even the rulebook. The Giro has recognised the hardship with the maglia nera or black jersey to the last rider overall in appreciation of their efforts to stay in the race. This has gone but today the Giro has a “fair play” ranking which scores teams by bad behaviour, ranging from 0.5 points for a fine to 2,000 points for a positive doping case: Astana lead the competition while Orica-Greenedge occupy last place.

186 thoughts on “Giro Stage 11 Preview”

  1. I haven’t read team / rider reactions, but is this a rule that is enforced often? (Although how often does this ‘act of kindness’ happen? Rarely I guess.)

    I suppose the commissaires could have been lenient seeing that Porte lost 40-odd seconds anyway? But then the rules are the rules are the rules.

    • Over time, you’ll find the UCI doesn’t enforce all rules equally including ones that are very clear.

      It might be interesting to see what Porte’s status is in the peloton over the next few days if there’s “gifting” to regain some of the lost time.

      I doubt it after the way Sky made the rest of the peloton look like amateurs for a couple of seasons. I’m in no position to know.

      • Whilst Contador et al. may have some sympathy for Porte, at the end of the day it’s a professional race that they all want to win very strongly. Porte being taken out of the running will be very convenient for them and I can’t see any amount of moralising overcoming that fact, not to mention the fact that the teams just wouldn’t countenance it. Furthermore, I don’t see any practicable way that the peloton could gift time back to Porte even if they wanted to. It’s one thing to slow down and let a GC contender back on the bunch after a mechanical, it’s another to hold the next stage to ransom, suspend racing for everyone else and allow Porte to go two minutes up the road. Is there any kind of precedence for this?

        Sadly, this is a case where the rigid application of the rules has somewhat spoiled what was really building up into an exciting race in week 3, especially with Porte’s relatively good TT. It’ll be interesting to see whether he finishes within 2 minutes of the eventual winner, although I can only imagine that his motivation will have taken a hit from his GC aspirations being killed off.

  2. Regardless of the letter of the law, this is a P.R. disaster for the Giro and the UCI. The headlines tonight should have been about sportsmanship. Wasn’t a 47 second deficit sufficient punishment? Where is the common sense?

    • The common sense is, as mentioned in the article, preventing teams who are supposed to be rivals from working together.

      It’s unfortunate for Porte, but he is not the first rider near the top of the GC to have his aspirations crushed by rules violations.

      There is a very long way to go yet anyway. There’s no reason to go immediately to all of Porte’s hopes being lost.

      • Well sure, but don’t teams who are supposed to be rivals work together all the time? Didn’t Aru and Contador have a little chat about teaming up and putting as much time as they could into into a struggling Uran on stage 9?

        Yes, there is a rule in place but in my opinion it should only have been enforced if an advantage was gained. I really don’t think any of Porte’s rivals would have complained if the rule were not enforced.

        I remember an incident during the women’s team sprint at the 2006 winter olympics where a Norwegian coach gave Canadian Sarah Renner a replacement ski pole after she had broken hers. The Canadian pair went on to a silver medal while Norway was shut out. It was heralded as incredible sportsmanship. Don’t see much sportsmanship in pro cycling.

        • In gratitude for passing up that cross-country ski pole, we Canadians gave the Norwegians 5.2 tons of maple syrup (7,400 cans). That’s a small fortune of liquid gold.

        • There is no FIS rule against giving or receiving a replacement pole to/from the service crew of another team. In practise it is quite normal and habitual, it is quite simply the done thing, (Admittedly although refusing to give a pole it is considered bad sport, it does sometimes happen in the heat of a battle in a relay or a mass-start race that a serviceman somehow fails to see or hear such a request – or it happens that the pole given is obviously too long or too short or that of the wrong hand…)

          Anyway, it amazes me that so many commentators fail to concede that the rule has a very meaningful point, it is there to prohibit quite spectacularly unsportmanshiplike cases of collusion. If you can at the bottom of one’s heart and with a clear head believe and assume that Clarke would have behaved just as sportsmanlike if the unfortunate rider had not been Antipodian, then you can feel a certain amount of outrage about the penalty.

          However, if you are not absolutely sure you wouldn’t have been among the first to drag out or to stick to the rulebook, if an Androni rider had given his wheel to Aru or a Movistar ride his wheel to Contadot, I’m not entirely sure you can so easily declare what “sporting justice” in this case is and what it is not.

          And to automatically assume that Aru (or Contador) wouldn’t have been treated equally “unsportsmanlike” by the commissaires/judges/UCI smacks IMHO of smug nationalism at best and xenophobia at worst.

          PS I think I can remember or dig out a couple of similar cases where a penalty followed – but not a single one where it didn’t. nyone?

          • Team Sky changed Gianni Meersman’s wheel earlier in the race but can’t see any evidence of action taken. He even tweeted about it afterwards.

            I understand why the rule is there but the penalty is too severe. So many rules are broken every day which if penalties were given would mean very few riders would be left to race (drafting by cars and sticky bottles are prime examples).

        • . im happy it is enforced, since its black and white in the rulebook. in my opinion these things should always be enforced (if there is sufficient proof, as in this case). i also understand the rule as such. of course its a rather unfortunate case, but then again, why was porte, who has 8 men comitted to help him win the giro all alone back there?

          what i dont know. why 2 minutes? seems harsh

    • seems that the P.R. disaster is for Sky, in this case. Kudos to the Giro and UCI for a reasonable application of the rules. Thanks to INRNG for the insightful commentary; I think his point about the possibly slow response of a Sky lieutenant– who could have prevented the need for Clarke’s sporting move– is key… that leaves egg on the face of Sky rather than the UCI.

      all in all, this is more of what makes pro cycling the best sport on earth– glorious complexity, intensity, and unpredictability!

      • Not so sure – a team that was all but booted from the World Tour (is that what we’re calling it this week?) dominates all stages in way not seen since USP then one of the two biggest threats to a local winner is penalised by about what he’s expected to take on the TT stage.
        I think all in all, this is more of what make pro cycling a bit of a joke to the rest of the earth.

        • I’m not sure there’s quite the conspiracy you’re alluding to here- the two minutes Ritchie was ‘awarded’ is written into the rules. Though, it is somewhat confusing that rules aren’t consistently enforced…

          Having said that, this was a missed opportunity to show off the good, sporting side of cycling. I think we could do with some positive PR…

      • Was Sky caught out a bit because they were also attempting to provide some measure of support for Vivaini in the final sprint?

        Porte has run afoul of the rules before, right? In 2013 TdF Froome was penalized because Porte gave him food in the closing kilometers?

      • There’s a photo over at CN of the wheel change just as it’s happening, which has another Sky rider partially in the photo. He’s resting some weight on his front handlebars, suggesting that he’s still got his front wheel in place.

        • Thanks for the quote Larry. I hadn’t expect the “a rule is a rule” interpretation from you.

          Of course this isn’t in any way connected to Italian bias. Oh except I remember a little quote from you on the 15th May. “I’m biased as hell of course”. This was in the context of when it comes to Italy and this just may just help an Italian win.

          I will expect to see a purely UCI rule book approach to all your posts from now on I guess.

  3. If the rules seem clear enough, can the the commissaires exercise discretion as to the size of the penalty imposed? Why two minutes and not one minute, for example?

    • my thoughts exactly, inner ring if the law is laid out so clearly is the punishment also laid out? Where did the race jury pull the 2min from?

      • From another website: The riders could have received a five- or 10-minute penalty, but because it was their first offense, they got away with only two minutes.

        • Again, when was the rule laid down? Back to when a 10mins gap were considered very bridgeable & 2mins a mere inconvenience as the 20secs Sky suffered on the opening stage?

          If that is the case, 2nins is certainly out of proportion.

          Porte should certainly pay for the rule breach, but by how much?

        • Read the rule book Milessio not other web sites. He got the exact penalty outlined in the UCI rules. 5 and 10 min is for second and third offenses. It pays to be informed before you say what people “Got away with”.
          Race Incident 8.2
          200 per offence and 2’, 5’ and 10’ penalty and elimination + 200 from 4th offence

      • I think your staunch approach, “it’s in the rules” is hard to understand. It’s frustrating because 2mins is basically costing him the race. For no advantage gained on anyone, just trying to limit losses. Collusion across teams via nationalities/old teammates/friends is happening on the road all the time. If this happened to Aru would the commisaires have applied the same penalty? Perhaps the penalty needs to be reviewed, if not the rule itself.

  4. The images clearly shows that Porte was with two teammates at the end of the Peloton seconds after the flat. They look at him going very slow and being drop… but they dont stop for him… and he don’t seem to ask anything. One of the two begin to slow down afterward….
    That’s weird. He should have just take the bike of one of is teammate… or the wheel.
    Big team mistake.

  5. You never know what can happen after a rest day. You just never know.

    Porte and Sky’s sportsmanship violations and pending penalties aside, we got to see a break survive on a pan flat day ! Perhaps exciting enough to push this stage from a one star to a two star affair. When was the last time that occurred ?

    Then Portes mechanical outside the 5k zone and a GC contender loses, initially, 47 seconds. Yet, another post rest day surprise !

    Hopefully, all riders have overcome the post rest day gremlins and the stage 11 parcourse will inspire some offensive racing.

  6. What about Clarke–why isn’t he punished? He had no reason for giving him his wheel other than personal ones. He might get the pat on the back from his fellow Aussies but if I was the team director, or owner even, I’d be perplexed and peeved.

  7. Maybe knowing the rules could be a “marginal gain” they can look at for next year. Porte would have been all surging adrenaline, but someone in the team car needed to have their head together enough to tell him to not do it.

    What is it with Australians and wheel changes in Grand Tours?

  8. One of the beauties of cycling is that the riders can band together and mete out their own justice. Give Porte back the two minutes in a controlled break, and restore some much needed dignity to the sport.

  9. Firstly rules are rules and Sky have a hen house of egg on their face first for not knowing the “marginal” rules and second for (unforgivably) not having a bodyguard near him.
    That being said:
    Spanish Armada get together do a deal and rob Robert Miller of a Vuelta … outside assistance (?):
    Vino “buying” the LBL
    Cadels interminably slow neutral wheel change in the Vuelta … unhelpful assistance (Yes agreed a long bow)
    Drug cheats (under the previous regimes)
    And last years fiasco in the snow … UCI we can’t do anything about that, all cases of move right along nothing to see here.
    But ah yes compression socks too high, (Quintanas TT overshoes last year anyone? Should have been penalised for fashion offence at the least) build a bike that is slightly different ah la O’Bree and rumours of motors in Fabians bike and boy can they move at Warp speed factor 8.
    Just goes to prove two truisms: in Pro cycling common sense isn’t too common and the other for Mr Brailsford, the devil is always in the detail …
    At least RCS spoke to them face to face before publishing the press release.
    I think Machiavelli took inspiration for his work from Pro Cycling and this has all the shades of outside assistance on the bellows when fixing forks 100 years ago.
    Controlled fury from Porte in the TT … lets hope so … this Giro seems to have more twist and turns than the Stelvio, its why we love it!

    • Don’t forget Quintana and co ignoring the red flag on the Stelvio descent last year.

      It’s the capriciousness of it all that’s the problems. Either enforce all rules to the letter of the law (note that since out the window rolling repairs were apparently “banned” there has been no real drop off in them) or admit that race situations and reality are fluid and complex and that discretion should be used in all circumstances.

  10. Sky’s ignorance of the rulebook aside, I’m not convinced this rule really adds any value.

    Preventing collaboration between teams – like a breakaway where a GC rider says work with me and you can have the stage win? Is that forbidden? Should it be?

    And how does this approach marry with other cross-team assistance? I’m thinking of Astana’s Tiralongo helping Saxo Bank’s Contador in the Funte De stage of the 2012 Vuelta. Why on earth is sharing a wheel for an unlucky puncture considered worse than pulling another team member to victory?

      • I suspect this rule exists to stop, in extreme cases, two teams that are friendly with each other (as OGE and SKY are) from being able to rely on each other for mechanical support and effectively doubling the size of the team…

        Riders in a break sharing bidons and energy bars is one thing; it’s mutually beneficial to keep the whole group going as long as possible. A GC rider in a break offering the stage to another rider in the break is still mutually beneficial- both riders get what they want. And, even though I’m on the fence about Clarke offering his wheel to Porte- it’s clear that only one person benefited from that.

  11. Here are the relevant non-discretionary sanctions as well from the UCI rule book:

    Chapter DISCIPLINE
    § 1 Infringements
    12.1.001 Infringements of the UCI Regulations may be demonstrated by any form of proof.

    8. Non-regulation assistance to a rider of another team
    Each rider concerned:
    8.2. Stage Race 200 per offence and 2’, 5’ and 10’ penalty and elimination + 200 from 4th offence
    Any other licence-holder: 200

  12. The real issue here is complete inconsistency in application of the rules. Remember just a month and a bit back and a certain railway crossing. Some big names, including GVA crossed in very clear, video taped and photographed transgression of 2.3.034 as pointed out on this very blog (and what a great blog too). The UCI had no choice according to the rule book but to disqualify the 3rd placed finisher. Instead nothing was done. Neutralised peloton or not afterwards, the rule was clear and broken. And not in a sportsmanlike way, but to potentially gain an advantage. Yet a blind eye was turned, despite the world watching.

    Here only a couple photos exist of a transgression that seems more innocent and in fact speaks of selflessness, and the book gets thrown at the offenders.

    Like or hate Sky, they have every right to feel unfairly treated, simply because the consistency that would be the root of all fairness does not exist. So in the eyes of many this was a conscience decision not to overlook a transgression when only a few weeks ago a conscience decision to indeed overlook a transgression was made. In both cases it can be argued the result of the race has been affected, and the last thing in the world any sport needs is for results of contests to be determined by the whim of a governing body.

    • Spot on. I wonder if the railway crossing is connected to this?

      Like in football, if a ref denies an obvious penalty challenge, he’ll often award a much softer penalty later in the game if the situation arises.

      In this case, the UCI can’t let two soft transgressions in a row happen for fear of looking soft, so Porte becomes the fall guy. If the UCI had appropriately punished the railway crossing riders, perhaps they let Porte off. If the UCI is out of synch with its administration of justice, perhaps the next serious transgression will go unpunished (the UCI don’t want to cause too much of a stir)… they need to get back in-synch…

      • You’re assuming The UCI is one body with one mind. It’s not, the commissaires on Paris-Roubaix decided one thing, the commissaires on the Giro another, I doubt there is any official thinking “those guys did that in Paris-Roubaix so we have to overcompensate today to make amends”. The Roubaix incident needs to be reviewed but what happened there doesn’t change the rules on wheel changes.

        • Correct, Mr. INRNG.
          We very rarely have any continuity from race to race simply becuse we are too many too different individuals.
          The UCI tend to have gatherings for a more “highly regarded” group of commissaires (Giro/TdF etc. -material) for them to discuss and align their work but the outcome – if any – seldom hit my part of the world. I normally discover any minutes from these mettings/seminars by accident when browsing the commissaires-section of the UCI homepage.
          On the situation at hand, please do not confuse the ASTANA-team management problem with the Porte-situation. The first is governed higher up in the UCI on procedures and legal matters, the latter is an immediate verdict in an immediate situation.

  13. INRNG I think that the rule you quoted in your tweet was more pertinent to this situation

    All riders may render each other such minor services as lending or exchanging food, drink, spanners or accessories.
    The lending or exchanging of tubular tyres or bicycles and waiting for a rider who has been dropped or involved in an accident shall be permitted only amongst riders of the same team. The pushing of one rider by another shall in all cases be forbidden, on pain of disqualification.

    Strange that anyone in the UCI thinks that a road race rider would be carrying a spanner in their pocket. Oh and its ok to hand over the battery to your electronic gears(accessory), but a wheel is a step to far.

    Of course the one thing that everyone is missing out here is that this rule has been broken in just about every stage race I have watched including this Giro. If only team members are allowed to wait for a rider who has been dropped then why is the peloton allowed to slow down until dropped riders return? This is against the rules and should not be allowed according to this rule. At the very least those of the front should be penalised. The peloton must continue on as before. If Contador had waited for schleck in chain gate he would have HAD to have been hit with a 2min fine because he was not allowed to wait.

    Of course in all of this we know that the UCI only enforces the rules they feel like. I bet there is not a level to be seen on a seat at the start of the TT. That could cause too much bad press.

      • I must disagree with you. There is no difference here. There is no ambiguity. You can not wait. It is part of the exact same rule. This is not an interpretation of the rule. It is the rule. It is not in any way ambiguous at all. It is VERY obvious when the peloton slows and the peloton slowing is also caught on camera. This is not what the rule is designed for (but I don’t think it was designed for Porte’s situation either) but it is the rule and has been broken in this Giro. The UCI is only enforcing a part of this rule because if it tried to apply the letter of the law to the peloton it would be very bad press.

        Don’t get me wrong here. The rule exists and Porte should be docked the time. If I can find the rules on the UCI site and read and mostly understand them in about an hour Porte and Clarke should know them too.

        • The word “wait” is ambiguous. Does it mean “slow down a bit” or does it only cover situations where people *stop* to wait for a team-mate?

          Either way, this is Sky’s next marginal gain: work out which rules are going to be enforced.

          • It’s really meant to cover a situation where riders from one team are dispatched to wait for another, eg if Porte has a mechanical, say 20km to go before a mountain finish, and Orica-Greenedge riders sit up to pace him back so that his Sky team mates keep fresh for the final climb. That’s out of the question.

  14. Could you clear something up please Inrng.

    Lots of comments re the UCI implementing, or not, various rules at various times during various races to various riders (so there’s consistency in the variousness of it all at least 🙂 but is it actually the UCI, at first point, who is making, or not, these decisions? In other words, is it only the UCI or do race organisers have to shoulder the responsibility as well to the obvious lack of consistency when implementing the rule book?

    • I was wondering how the system works. In Motor Rallying the stewards are appointed by the organisers (although they have to be agreed by the FIA). They make the decisions based on the rule book and their own experience but it does mean decisions vary from event to event. Your only protection is to know the rule book better than them (precedent is never taken into account). Is this the way it works in cycling?

    • The UCI make the rules and commissaires are tasked with upholding them. A race like the Giro has a jury of international commissaires and they meet to review cases like this one.

      It is not for the race to decide but the race director often travels in the same car as the chief of the jury during the day and they’ll share views.

  15. INRNG, the rule you quote is interesting, in that riders are only allowed to accept wheels from their team or from neutral service. And yet every year in Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, riders take wheels from spectators at the side of the road. So according to the letter of the law, all those riders should be punished too, right?

    And where do the rules stand in regards to riders coercing the peloton to wait up for other riders? Like when Wiggins slowed down the bunch to wait for Cadel Evans after he got a puncture in the 2012 TDF?

      • I recall Jens Vogt finished a tour stage in 2010 with the assistance of a kids bike that he borrowed off a bystander.

        Greg Henderson and Jack Bobridge were in a break during the tour down under stage up Willunga hill this year. They reached the bottom of the hill and Henderson gave Bobridge a massive handsling before popping.
        2 min penalty?
        Its not consistent, but thats life. Sky stuffed up, plain and simple.
        There’s so often an element in luck in grand tours in avoiding mechanical incidents, which is part of the appeal. 2 years ago in the tour Valverde punctured just as the cross winds and OPQS tour the race to pieces. Valverde and 6 Movistar riders were playing a lost game of catch up while Quintana sat with the leaders and went on to finish on the podium.
        Despite Lance Armstrong’s other obvious indiscretions, he fell once in 7 races and never punctured.

        • You recall the Jens Voigt story wrong, it was a kids bike from neutral support (a proper yellow bike), that they used for little rides given to kids before the stage.

        • The kids bike that Voigt borrowed was being carried by an official TDF vehicle that was part of the following cavalcade of vehicles, so not really ‘taken from a bystander’.

          From his wiki page:

          “Desperate, he borrowed a child’s bike much too small for him, from a children group’s car which was following the race. He rode on it for about 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) before reaching a policeman who had another bicycle which had been left for him by his team.”

          • The rule says “netural service”, not anybody associated with the official race authority to some capacity. Doubt that those bikes are part of the neutral service.

            Let’s not kid ourselves, rules are not applied consistently here. It’s not an Italian conspiracy but rather UCI failing to keep their rules updated & relevant. A football model (which I read here amongst constructive comments) of monthly training camp, Jury consistency rated by riders & teams should be applied. Moreover, UCI should have at least guidelines for situations like yesterday even if it’s not possible to write them into rules.

  16. Another thing. We know inconsistent application of the rule is not unique to cycling. In football, referees frequently take a lot of criticism for not applying the laws of the game in a consistent fashion. In response, the powers that be put a lot of effort into training referees to iron these issues out. A referee can even be suspended for a few games when they’ve made a bad mistake in a game. Surely the UCI should be making moves to ensure a better set up in terms of commissaire training, consistency and punishment?

    • It’s a more a case of seeing what happens. In football a referee and the assistants can see almost all the field of play, in cycling the commissaires can’t see everything so a lot of rules require evidence from TV footage or even social media pics of Porte’s wheel change. Take Gianni Meersman who got a spare wheel from Sky earlier in the race, almost nobody noticed so he wasn’t sanctioned.

      • I completely agree that commissaires can only punish what they see. Just as in football, referees sometimes miss infringements when their back is turned. My point really was that there is undoubtedly inconsistency in the way the rules are applied (or not) in cycling. Various posters have pointed out ‘train-gate’ Paris-Roubaix or the old cycling on footpaths rule, where rules have obviously beeb breached in plain sight of commissaires but with no punishment.

        But what efforts do the UCI make to try to promote consistency between commissaires?

        In football, top referees receive training and have to be qualified. They attend training camps twice a month, and former players and managers assess the consistency of decisions applied. Teams are also briefed at the beginning of each season about any changes to the rules, so they are clear before the season starts.

        Is there an equivalent process in cycling?

        • @Lenny,

          Yes, we are trained. You will find the requirements stated in the regulations Part I.
          Today commissaires are trained in a more professional way than before, the UCI has done a lot to improve the training.
          And they have improved a lot in trying to keep us aligned on sanctions and verdicts but we are a very motley crew from very different cultures which have different attitudes towards rules and conduite.
          Also the UCI have a select group that get to do WT and grand tours and what they do and sanction, how they do it how they handle situations etc, of course, does not dripple down to us mere mortals, unfortunately.
          Being in a mid-level race in Belgium can be quite difficult because everybody; riders, press, photographers etc. have all seen “how it’s done” in the big races and they assume that this is the way to do it (mechanics leaning out, sitcky bidons, crossing railroads, MCs pacing riders etc.).

          • Thanks for the reply.

            So, assuming you are a commissaire (?), you do get training, but it sounds like the UCI could do a lot more to ensure consistency amongst commissaires. Even if this started with the just the select WT group you mentioned, at least then they’d be setting an example to the ‘lower division’ races?

            Is there a system of review for commissaires, such as the one in Premier League football whereby ex-players and managers review referee decisions?

          • No problem, Larry.
            Yes, for commissaires trained and passing their exams in the last couple of years, a procedure has been implemented to oversee the new ones during their first year or two. Presumably with some kind of feedback.
            Feedback has always been a problem with this training and examination. You could pass (or not) but you would never get any feedback on your 4 hrs. written test. So basically you are left in the dark as to what you did wrong – or right.
            I have colleagues that have tried several times before passing but never once knew what they got wrong; only that they passed at last. That is IMO not the right way to do it. Feedback on your test is vital for you to improve your work. “Train you weaknesses”, so to speak.

      • FWIW Gianni Meersman wrote in his tweets (translation unnecessary, I believe:)

        Fairplay wordt nu ook al bestraft, schandalig is dat #Giro

        Contador laat Porte 2min voor peloton rijden en alles is opgelost. UCI zou nogal kijken

      • It’s also an issue of bothering to enforce the matters that are drawn to their attention. The P-R level crossing this year, Quintana and Rolland’s descent last year, and numerous transgressions of the “thou shalt stay on the road” rule were all shown quite clearly in the footage, but not deemed worthy of sanction at the time.

      • @inrng,

        pay attention the rule says “riders”, not staff members or mechanics.

        I believe most of fans is comparing apples with bananas.

        When the rule is clear and it applied/enforced I don’t complaint, even it is against my favored rider or team.

        The Orica guy stops and gives his own front wheel for other rider from other team. He hadn’t any advantage on this action. On the other hand, when riders from different teams make temporary alliances for gain time on peloton or common adversaries, both riders may have some advantage like podium place or time.

  17. Does anyone know how the UCI arrived at their pretty much arbitrary penalty times? Why is it 20 seconds for an “illegal” feed (such as was given to Froome in the 2013 TDF) yet 2 minutes for a wheel change?

  18. I have to say this is immensely depressing. There is no way the rule would have been applied to Aru. Now we have to watch someone who managed to lose 5kg in a week on a team that is so obviously dodgy it should not be riding lording it over everyone else. Just when I thought cycling was getting its moral compass back.

  19. This happened on yesterdays stage, time penalty? Rules are rules so why aren’t these 2 being punished
    “Marangoni and Malaguti hatched a plan Monday, keen to be off the front for their home crowds.

    “Me and Malaguti, he lives here, five kilometers [away]. I have a fan club at 30km to go, with my Dad and my Mum, 20 or 30 people were there. Yesterday, I asked Malaguti [to join me], because he had a big motivation to try today. I asked Bardiani for one man, and [Matteo] Busato [Southeast], because he was my ex-teammate in the amateurs. We wanted to try,” Maragoni said”

      • Fair enough, I was thinking along the lines of pre planned colluding to “fix” a result, which is also against the law in Italy.

        Either way delighted for the break to get the win

      • Tubular tyres….

        What about clinchers? 🙂

        Also, didn’t think tubular tyres where wheels….

        That sounds like it was written in the ‘olden days’…

        • I tried to find a loop hole here too! By my reading of the rule the exchanging of the wheel is not expressly forbidden but the tubular tyre on the wheel is the offending article.

        • Yeah, it’s wonderfully worded isn’t it ?

          It specifically says you can’t swop the tubular, ie strip it off one wheel and reglue it to another : do that in 2mins and I’d be impressed indeed !

          But Porte of course falls foul because he did get the tubular – together with the rest of the wheel of course, but that’s by-the-by.

          But yes, you could, according to the letter of the rule, swap the wheel or even just the tyre, if you were on clinchers

  20. As was already mentioned in other comments, there is at least 1 other Sky rider in the picture of the wheel change. So Porte took the wheel from another team’s rider to have the advantage of his own team mate being available to pace him back. That is approximately what the rule tries to discourage, so applying the rule is correct.

    • I can’t agree with that – if Porte had taken a wheel from a team mate rather than the one proferred by Clarke, do you think Clarke would not then have helped to pace him back, like Matthews? It’s nothing to do with planned collusion – it’s a spur of the moment thing. If you came across a good friend, who was challenging on GC, standing at the side of the road, would you do anything different?

      • I’m one of the guys who *do* read the manual (that proverbially nobody reads), so I would know that being paced back by someone from another team is allowed, but taking a wheel is not. So I’d be an even better friend and I’d tell him “can’t give you that wheel, but your team mate is right next to you, take his!”

        Your argument is basically that “this other thing that would be theoretically similar in outcome isn’t forbidden, so this thing shouldn’t be either”. This is not how rules work. It’s like a kid saying “but I should be allowed to do this!”

  21. So what about Contador, he removed his helmet while racing the other day….all live on TV. I thought that this was not allowed by the rules, so why was he not punished?

    • It is not allowed and the penaly is DQ

      12.1.040 section 3.3
      3.3. Rider taking off the mandatory helmet during the race

      Penalty: disqualified and 100

      This can be found on p12 of PART 12 DISCIPLINE AND PROCEDURES, UCI Cycling Regulations

      • Humm… yes, but I think (not sure about that) the set of rules about wearing helmets define as “mandatory” the helmet in more or less every kind of cycling competition, *except* road racing, which has a separate comma which just states “riders shall wear a helmet”, without saying it’s “mandatory”. When you compare the two commas you notice the difference, they’re one after the other and the second one only is meant to differentiate road racing. I’ve not them at hand, but I can look for references. I’m not in the subject, but some acquaintances that are on road racing told me that’s to justify that you can briefly take off the helmet to change your wear and so: maybe UHJ knows more about that? However, I think that it’s not as clear cut as the wheels/frame rule, nor (if it was meant as you interpret it) are there as many precedents.

        • 1.3.031 1. Wearing a rigid safety helmet shall be mandatory during competitions and training
          sessions in the following disciplines: track, mountain bike, cyclo-cross, trials and BMX,
          para-cycling, as well as during cycling for all events.
          2. During competitions on the road, a rigid safety helmet shall be worn.

      • Well we can be sure that Mick R. has not read this item , since before the ” Feed Zone ” , on Eurosport Live , we are treated to a REPEAT !

        Just why Contador needed to adjust his head scarf , whilst a team mate held the required helmet , will no doubt come out later ? Perhaps this rule is invisible in the Spanish version of the UCI rules ?

        Seems to me that the ” Commisaires ” appointed to each UCI Event , treat matters in their own way, thus All are left speculating about their motivation ?

        One of these days , i will discover the reason a ” Neutral Service Car is up the road in front of the race , rather than being in a position where it can offer any assistance .

  22. I don’t really see how this is any different to the millions of times you see riders who have been dropped due to a mechanical getting a lift back to the peleton behind another teams car?! Seems like a pointless penalty to a rider who had already lost out through no fault of his own. What is actually being punished here?! I think we can safely say Contador has won now.

    • Daniel Lloyd addressed this point on twitter.

      Basically if the pace is on in a race a dropped rider has no way of getting back on without drafting the cars. So drafting may be banned but doing so is fairly vital to the functioning of a pro bike race. Without the blind eye being turned a puncture early in the race for anyone other than a team leader would almost certainly lead to an elmination.

  23. I agree that none of this would have happened if a Sky rider had stopped for Porte, but it still seems like an over-zealous application of the rules. If the same situation had happened to Aru, can anyone see them applying the same penalty? There would have been national outrage. There’s been so much talk of how Aru is Italy’s darling; well now Uran is writing himself out of contention, Porte is effectively gone thanks to the commissaires and I can’t see the injured Contador holding off Aru in the mountains for much longer. I think they’ve decided the result for themselves – Porte was possibly the last real threat to Aru, someone capable of mostly staying with him in the mountains and taking minutes on the time trial.

    On another point, when are we allowed to be openly suspicious of Astana? Despite Nibali, Fuglsang and Scarponi being elsewhere, they’re completely dominating this Giro. It’s not like Cataldo and Landa are greats of the sport, either – a glance at their palmares on Wikipedia makes for brief reading. Neither of them seems to have done anything notable in the last few years, apart from their performance in Trentino…

    • That brief glance at Wiki would have shown you that Cataldo has twice finished 12th overall at the Giro and Landa is regarded as a good climber. Let’s see how they do at the end of the race and then judge. Perhaps many or all of the Astana riders will falter later in a three week race having overly exerted themselves in week one.
      That’s not to say I have no suspicions – just no proof.

    • hes not gone “thanks to the comissaires” hes gone (actually not really) because he violated the rules. he mustnt be surprised if he gets penalised for it.

  24. “I hope they [Sky] reflect on this matter and they realise that there has been no injustice here: a rule that has existed for a long time was applied to an incident in the race. I hope….they’ll realise that the rule had to be applied.” (Giro director Mauro Vegni). Although it was the race jury who enforced the rule, not Vegni, who alerted them to it? Why have they not been alerted to Contador’s helmet violation and why was this not applied?

  25. The official Giro Twitter account was interesting – after the stage had finished they posted about what a great example of sportsmanship it was, and then 2 hours later posted the announcement of the penalty.

    • Well, I assume that account is managed by someone from media staff, and not a race official. A tweet is never a official statement in any way.

  26. Whom this rule would not apply to (in all probability):

    1. Italian teams
    2. Italian riders
    3. Pink jersey

    Basically, Porte isn’t pink or Italian enough.

  27. Rules are rules and the SKY fanboys are looking to blame anyone and anything. Hard luck the race goes on and Richie will have to wake up and try something special.

    • Rules are rules, you’re right. If only they were applied consistently across the board, the P-R level crossing incident being a case in point.

      • Exactly. There is precedent for the rules being relaxed and common sense/fair play being applied. If Contador’s violation is overlooked (quite rightly), then Porte’s should too. To apply them so rigidly and eliminate a contender only serves to give rise to the anti-Italian conspiracy theories.

  28. Poor Oscar Gatto-he clearly would have had the best chances for a win out of that 5 riders. After his mechanical he then finished as 186th – out of the 187th.

  29. No one has yet mentioned the “stopped” convoy. I think Flecha may have mentioned something in Eurosport Extra. This prevented the Sky riders getting back to the peloton in a reasonable time. Anything in that?

    • Flecha mentioned this but other reports say Sky got help from the Katusha and Nippo-Vini Fantini cars. What’s interesting is that all of this took place out of sight of the cameras, just one example of the blind sports.

  30. Mick Rogers won the Tour Down Under in 2002 thanks to the good fortune of bike swap with a roadside fan that had an almost identical bike. It received widespread media coverage. Did the UCI’s rule not apply in 2002? Were the commissaires asleep?

  31. The rule is the rule.
    However the 2 minute time penalty is, to my mind, disproportionate.
    Porte did not have any “sticky bottle” assistance back into the race, and that coupled with the fact that the convoy had been pulled over making passage in the last KM trickier for him than for the main peloton who had a clear run to the line, must have added to his time loss.

    If Porte had have punctured in the last 3KM and been given a wheel by Clarke then the 2 minutes might be seen proportionate.

    What many people find problematic is the subjective nature of the penalty, which in this case seems to some (rightly or wrongly) to have been applied to remove the danger of overall success to the chances of a “grand champion” (who served a doping ban) and a local (who rides on a team under suspicion).

    Back to the ‘facts’ and looking at the comments from Carlton Kirby on twitter this morning, it seems that no rider complained, no commissar saw the incident or made mention of it, no TV camera saw it, and the only ‘evidence’ the jury saw was the thank you tweet from Porte to Clarke, and later the photo on social media.
    Make of that what you will.

    • Judging from the wording, I guess this rule is very old. Without having proof, I would guess it goes back to the times when riders carried spare tubulars over their shoulders, when they carried tools like spanners, and when 2 minutes were a trifle compared to riders coming in hours later, but 100 Swiss Francs were a serious amount.

  32. If my memory serves me right, wasn’t Flecha recently employed by a certain Sky? I also raise my eyebrows at some of last week’s performances but from there to thinly-veiled anti-Italian comments is just lazy thinking.
    As so many have pointed out, why has that Sky rider looking on not been given the most almighty bollocking? It was his job to give up a wheel.

  33. Can’t grumble about the rule – seems a fair application given the text.

    It is frustrating that the very behaviour that it would look to restrict, for example having a breakaway companion do the majority of the work and then ‘gift’ the win bonus, will never be penalised.

  34. It would be interesting to know how often these time penalties are actually enforced. It’s only very public because it hit one of the contenders for GC. If it had hit any domestique, it probably wouldn’t have been mentioned by anyone.

    As INRNG mentioned, we complained last year about Quintana/Rolland red flag situation because the commissaire didn’t enforce the rules, but now, we are criticising them for enforcing the rules.

    Also it’s worrying that so close to the finish, Porte had no team mate to give him a wheel, bike etc… Even though there is one picture on Twitter with another Sky rider just watching as Porte is given his replacement wheel. Did he not give it as he was coming back to help Porte, or did he not give it to him because he was going to help him get back to the bunch or did he no want to give it to him?

    • One of the incidents is blatantly dangerous, effected the whole peloton and resulted in a shift in the outcome of the race, the other is the difference betweeen a teams inattention and a moment of sportsmanship costing two friends with different employers 40 seconds (ample punishment for Sky’s inattentiveness on the run in) and 2 minutes out of what seems to be jobsworthery.

  35. Personally I loved this quote by Giro director Mauro Vegni.

    In respect of the ruling: “…credibility of this sport and, in this case, the credibility of the Giro d’Italia.”

    Would love to know if there was just a bit of tongue in cheek when he said that, after all you could look at the current GC like this:

    1st : Banned for doping
    2nd : Multiple team doping violations
    3rd : Multiple team doping violations
    4th : Multiple team doping violations
    5th : Waiting for CAS ruling on doping case

    7th : Banned for working with Ferrari
    8th : Banned for doping

    • Tell us the details about Damiano Caruso, please, so we will know if you are really informed on what you’re speaking about and didn’t just visit some internet archive (you have time to Google around a little, now). He hasn’t been banned “for doping” like, say, Contador, anyway. And this kind of post is utterly sad, showing *how it goes*, eventually.

      About the rest, I’d say we’ve got a good list of examples of following the rules on part of the authorities (except Contador’s case, maybe. However, a case that is way less black and white than Porte’s, among other things).
      Which I’d tend to consider a good thing, and I guess you don’t. Maybe with “credibility” you mean blinking eyes and poking at friends instead of respecting rules?
      Reference to the Astana affair are especially ridiculous, as it has been long explained in these pages.
      You can include the Lefevere structure in “multiple doping violations”, and, speaking of Etixx, why don’t we add to your categories “having worked with a dodgy doctor”? Hence you could rule out the whole top 20 (and more), thus showing even further that since cycling isn’t credible, now we can suspend rules happily, smiling all together.
      I was quite shocked by what happened, still it was the only possible outcome: and any correct behaviour is indeed improving the credibility of the sport, like it or not.

      • Sorry I didn’t respond earlier, just seen your reply.

        You’re completely fair in what you write. Look, to be honest I posted what I did more to be humorous in light of what Vegni was quoted as saying.

        No, I’m probably not as informed as I should be. First and foremost I am a sports fan, most sports I will happily watch. For many years I would watch the TdF and enjoy it, both for the racing and the scenery. That was the extent to my cycling viewing.

        The last few years I’ve come to enjoy watching cycling more and more as I’ve understood more and more about the sport. I’ve become addicted to watching as many races as Eurosport will put on, failing that I will find a stream, I’ve took my son to watch the TdF (in the UK) from the roadside and we both loved it and we intend to travel to France this years to try and catch 3 or 4 days live and take in the atmosphere. So, while I consider myself a massive fan I still consider myself an outsider in that I don’t know everything, I don’t have the level of knowledge of most people on this board I would imagine.

        When I was 14 my family and I went on vacation to Austria. The 1988 Olympics were on and within 3 or 4 days Ben Johnson won the 100m final and was then disqualified. I think from that point on my hatred of doping was set. Fast forward and the rumors of widespread doping in the cycling world. Remember at this point I was not informed AT ALL. I think finally finding out the truth, that all those TdF’s I had enjoyed watching were being mostly competed by men who were cheating was a bit of a KO blow.

        That is why my views are somewhat extreme on doping and I do believe in zero tolerance. I guess the longtime cycling fan possibly has more acceptance than me (for being more “in the know”) and I guess I understand that.

        I would really like to put a line in the sand and say to myself accept what has happened previously and move on but I do find it difficult. Perhaps I will try again and I’m sure if I can I will enjoy this fantastic sport even more than I do now. You know it’s incredibly difficult on the one hand to be absolutely thrilled to watch a real talent like Contador and on the other be wondering about his past and hoping that someone might beat him. Too much negativity can spoil a good thing.

        I’ve just read through what I’ve wrote and god, I’ve been rambling.

        Anyway, I’m going to give it a try, line in the sand and all that, positive thoughts and acceptance……

        • Thanks for your reply, really appreciated the personal experience.

          I myself got a little angrier than needed on the Damiano Caruso thing: I’ll tell you the story so you’ll maybe understand why.
          His suspension was due to a couple of amateur riders asking him the phone number of a soigneur who worked in connection with a team for which Caruso rode before. Caruso wasn’t working with the man nor had he worked with him before because he knew he was *dodgy*, hence refused to give them any contact. The two eventually got busted by police and tried to involve the – very relatively – big name of a *pro rider* to get some advantage in the court. Police found out that Caruso’s version, which I’ve been related here, was true and he was cmopletely acquitted. But the CONI (Italian olympic comitee) decided to judge him for “covering a doping related behaviour” since at the time he hadn’t informed authorities about the facts.
          Note that, as I haven’t said before, “the time” was 2007, when he was 19 years old, and he wasn’t yet a professional. He was sanctioned in 2012. Five years later. Consider also what *the state of cycling* was in 2007, how Kohl’s declaration were received the following year, McQuaid reign at his best all around, Armstrong coming back in a couple of years, people possibly using freely CERA among the pro ranks… Yeah, it would be very good (or maybe not) that a teenager feels so just and safe and sure of himself that he denounces guys asking about a dodgy soigneur, but I can’t see it as realistic. Nor am I totally sure that, besides intuition and common sense, he really had any *proof* to be sure that the guys were looking for doping.
          Note that the prosecutor had asked a FOUR YEARS disqualification, that is, erasing Caruso’s career to date. Finally it was one year. Not a great deal, it was backdated, so he lost one year of not very significant results. Not a serious thing.
          But, hey, now people looking for his name in the web appear to consider that “he was diqualified for doping”. That’s pretty hard.
          We won’t ever know the truth, but the whole thing is kafkian and can be understood only in the context of CONI antidoping office, with an active policy of persecuting cycling (note that I didn’t write “persecute doping in cycing”…).
          I’d just add that CONI decided that only an abstract of the sentences is to made public, thus we won’t be able to know the details as we can do with TAS sentences, for example. Transparency at his best (to protect the athletes’ privacy, they say o__O ).

    • This, so much this, is why it is hard to love modern cycling to me. It’s a sport of remarkable moral flexibility, where forgiveness is very easy to come by. And the Giro is the worst.

  36. Re R Porte situation, would not be the first time Giro officials ‘influenced’ (ahem, allegedly of course) the result to favour an Italian. Fingon, TT and helicopters come to mind (all of this always allegedly). Well I guess with Porte 3 mins back, that is on less worry for Aru. The commissars can always give a bit of a time penalty to Contador for not putting on the Maglia Rosa on the podium a few days ago, no matter that his arm was hanging off the skin of his shoulder. 🙂

  37. Before the whinging about Porte being “hometowned” gets too loud, here’s the makeup of the race jury from the “Garibaldi”
    Presidente INGO REES (Ger)
    Delegato tecnico UCI World Tour LAURENT SERVAES (Fra?)
    The question marks note my guess at nationality as none is listed.

      • Once the pictures emerged, the commisaires simply had no other choice than to follow the rules, especially as the rule is very clear, without room for interpretation. As is the penalty. This isn’t even a new or a totally obscure or unknown rule. This Giro is still young, who knows what will happen.

        • Agreed with the principle, though commisaires have managed to do otherwise in equally clear situations before. It’s good to see they’re getting a grip now!

    • According to my Twitter timeline, this is the same Vicente Tortajada Villaroja who DQ’ed Ted King from 2013 tour for 7 seconds…

  38. Just to be clear, my comment on Porte being penalised to favour Aru is more in jest than intended to be a serious remark. I hope this does not attract the ramblings of serious conspiracy theorists.

    That said, on Saturday’s TT watch out for helicopter man Gianni Bungo descending from the heavens to blow some headwind in the face of the non-Italians….

  39. By definition, it wasn’t sporting: Clarke did it because of nationality and friendship – I think we can assume that he’d have ridden right past Contador.
    Brailsford has said that no advantage was gained. This is not true. If Porte takes a team mate’s wheel that’s one less rider to help him.
    And there is the crucial point: as IR has pointed out, this is another example of Sky lacking racing knowledge – something they seem to mostly ignore.
    In the photo, a Sky team mate is standing right there: the normal – legal – thing to do is to take his wheel.
    Throughout cycling history, there have been numerous examples of riders helping one another – e.g. Tiralongo helping Contador in Vuelta 2012 (or Millar helping Roche in the 1987 Giro, Eisel riding for Cavendish in the Olympics, maybe even Valverde riding for Rui Costa when he won the World Championships – but two wrongs don’t make a right. Same goes for all of the other interpretations of the rules mentioned in posts above. However, it does show the need for the UCI commissaires to uphold its laws – constantly and with consistency.
    Also, this is an absolutely black and white case, whereas Tiralongo (and the others) could claim he was riding in the hope of winning the stage.
    Generally speaking, it would be borderline impossible to prove that riders were slowing to let others back on, etc. – whereas here there was absolute proof.
    I don’t like seeing this sort of thing – didn’t like seeing Matthews helping Porte; didn’t like Tiralongo’s actions (are they also seen as a great example of ‘mateship’?) – it’s very important for the integrity of racing that teams are kept separate. That’s why this punishment has to be applied – and two minutes makes it an effective deterrent.
    Disregarding this rule here would set a precedent: if you don’t apply this rule then it can be broken in the future. And at what level of collusion would you stop?
    That all said, it’s a huge shame for Porte and for the neutral observer.
    However, any neutral will come to the conclusion that this is Sky and Porte’s fault (being so ignorant of the rules that Porte provided the evidence on twitter).
    A neutral will also observe that we simply don’t know what would have happened if it was Aru.

    • +1
      Excellent sum up.

      I, for one, tend to appreciate the *gray* aspects of cycling (no, not speaking of doping, that would be “red”), even if it’s very hard – if not impossible – to justify them in sporting terms. The peloton waiting, the favours and so on. I can perfectly see that they’re a constant source of injustice: whom do you really wait for? Whom do you help when needed? Sure, not everyone (Cancellara stopping the bunch just when it’s ok for his teammates and so on, compared with Armstrong’s team pulling hard after the Passage de Gois or when Mayo fell). All this fosters collective dynamics which often have very dark consequences, that go even further from “altering the competition”. All the same, with a strong sense of culpability, I struggle to avoid finding most of these situation fascinating in narrative terms 🙂
      That said, as J Evans pointed out perfectly, it would be quite complicated to demonstrate that any of these behaviours wasn’t legitimate, since the bunch, as any rider, can decide what rhythm is to be held in any given moment.
      Whereas the big problem for Sky, Porte, RCS, the jury and all of us is that in this case a huge suspension of a very clear-cut and no discretionary rule would have been required.

      • PS True that we won’t ever know about Aru (unless he does the same in the next stages 😛 ), but there are some precedents about Italian GC contenders – including the outright favourite – being thrown out by the jury, and in situations which were way less adamant. Different organisation, different jury, no factual proof about Aru, though significant data to be taken into account.

    • I agree with most of this except when you say “it would be borderline impossible to prove that riders were slowing to let others back on, etc. – whereas here there was absolute proof”. Are you trying to tell me that there is no proof that the peloton has ever slowed to allow a dropped GC rider back on? I have seen it, heard the commentators talk about it, and heard riders interviewed after races talk about it. Nothing ambiguous about it. It happens. It also happens to be just as illegal as Porte taking a wheel, as “it’s very important for the integrity of racing that teams are kept separate.”

      Also everyone knows that Matthews dropped back and helped Porte out. It was obvious. There is video of him looking around to see where Porte is to make sure he’s on the wheel before he drives hard on the front of a sky train. If they are going to enforce this rule then Porte allowing this was his second offence and he should also be docked the extra 5min for this on top of the 2min for the wheel change. Its an easily verified fact.

      Finally, have you ever seen a team-mate push another team-mate when they have done a wheel swap or a bike change? I have and never seen anything said about it. This same rule says that the penalty for this is DQ for both riders.

      So back to your argument, a precedent has already been set. It is already constantly ignored. Why change now?

        • You’re admitting a low grade breach of the rules is given leniency. So how is the Porte situation not a low grade breach of the rule you said yourself was to “prevent hidden alliances and nasty surprises”? There was clearly no underhanded tactic in this case, yet you choose to apply common sense to the push ruling, but not this situation.

        • Tolerated doesn’t mean legal. The rule is very specific and it is forbidden. It applies in all cases of pushing.

          “The pushing of one rider by another shall in all cases be forbidden, on pain of disqualification.”

      • So you want to legislate against what is going on in riders’ heads? CAAS would have a field day. And even a court will look twice at an admission of guilt, so the evidence of interviews is hardly enough to condemn someone.

        While you may be correct regarding the physical (and therefore provable) act of pushing are you arguing that all rules should be ignored and the whole thing should be a free for all or only ignore the rules that penalise riders for whom you have an affinity?

      • By the way I do agree that Porte should lose the 2min in case you were wondering. I’m just stating that the UCI only interprets the rules as they see fit and they don’t apply them to all the cases they should.

      • ‘Are you trying to tell me that there is no proof that the peloton has ever slowed to allow a dropped GC rider back on?’

        – we’ve all seen it. But we can’t PROVE it. You can’t prove what a rider’s motivation is. It’s blindingly obvious to all, but it’s not proof.

  40. Find it interesting that the potential positive PR for cycling was probably what did it for Porte in the end. INRG (in my view) correctly points out that it’s the issue being caught on camera that lead to a fine (vs say Meersman). Had the image not been so positive for the image of cycling, see Giro account tweeting it etc, then the whole debacle might have been ignored.

  41. I was hugely disappointed by what happened, still I’m afraid there’s a little to complain about. Guess we should accept it like a fall or any other accident which can bring a contender a good time down in GC. Yes, it’s in good part their fault (as a good number of falls are), they made worse-than-amateur errors along the whole process for which they can’t blame none but themselves: just as Contador did in that descent last year. That one was really a shock for me, and, on a lesser scale, this is, too: at least they’re still racing, and even if the most probable result is that the Giro is greatly diminished, I still hope things go a very different way – potential is totally there to do so.

    I understand the impact of the news on fans, still I would have preferred not to see the display of racism and ignorance that the event happened to unleash.
    Italian GC contenders were, in fact, expelled from the Giro because of controversial episodes (sometimes without any recorded visual evidence), I can remember at least a couple of cases just in the last 15 years. Belli was cast out because he hit a “tifoso” who had been insulting him and spitting on him for a long stretch of some hellish climb. The following year, Casagrande was the main Italian GC favourite left in the race and he was expelled because of an “irregular sprint” on a 3rd category KOM.
    The Stelviogate (about which my opinion is probably more shaded than most, but this is not the subjct, here) ultimately favoured a Colombian rider over another Colombian and… the same Aru!
    Cavendish and Renshaw were accused to have climbed the Etna “by car” by Belletti, but, in spite of some images regarding at least Renshaw, nobody was sanctioned. Whereas in 2012, following a similar “polemica” promoted this time by Cav, Guardini was disqualified during the penultimate stage.

    The Jury is international, it depends on the UCI and not on RCS, and we’ve got some precedent to say that – however long they can speak with the race director – they don’t look that *Italian biased*: so if you want to say that the chief commissaire is German hence it’s the old Anglo-German grudge about IIWW it would probably make more sense.

    I’ve read on these same pages and elsewhere about a couple of relatively recent precedents, both with a relevant effect on the GC: the Hainan facts, and the 2′ penalty on Sicard in the Tour de l’Avenire he was leading by two mins *and one sec* 🙂 because he was assisted by the “wrong” National team (they had France 1 and France 2 riding, but obviously they should compete as rivals).
    I admit I myself was quite ignorant about that, and was as a consequence shocked as pretty much everyone else; nevertheless, we just can’t say that it’s a rule that hadn’t been applied in centuries. And maybe people making a living in the sport should know better than us.
    (Sidenote: speaking of ignorance, maybe following real cycling and not patching one’s ignorance through Wikipedia would help more to learn anything about Cataldo or Landa).

    I find utterly amusing how a lot of people choose a defence like “lots of rules are often skipped, thus it’s unfair they’re applying some rule now”: if this was applied to doping, we wouldn’t have pretty much any disqualification! More than everything, we shouldn’t have any sanction applied for the large period during which we now know doping rules were *consciously* skipped for some riders and teams. Utter inconsistency by the rulers would justify anyone. I’m a proud defender of riders, when we speak about doping, still I’d never ask that a clearly positive rider shouldn’t be disqualified, unfair it may be the social process which lead to the situation. It makes sense to change social conditions and avoid looking for easy culprits, but you just don’t suspend the rules.
    As many have pointed out, first of all in most cases you need some kind of proof and often you don’t have it. Secondly, the fact that something hasn’t been done *rightly* in any given occasion shouldn’t be a good reason to follow down the wrong path. Third, the second point is even more true when different rules’ infringements are cited: rules are quite different between them. Most of them are open to interpretation, have got gray areas and so on: this particular one is clear and definite enough, a rare pearl in the messy treasure chest of UCI rules (I agree time penalties should be reduced). Fourth, I guess they wouldn’t have done anything without the photo in the social media; with the photo around, and people starting to comment – before the jury decision came out – “hey, but isn’t that forbidden?” (apparently, someone in the world knows the rules), well, let’s say that not doing anything would have placed the jury in a horrible condition. With Cookson visiting the race – and his son, if he’s around – like… *tomorrow*!

    Believe me, RCS would have loved to have Porte one minute and not three minutes back. They care quite a lot more about international fans than about Italian one, whom they give for granted (see also inrng’s previous post): no genius is needed to notice that.
    Still, I want to hope that maybe, and it’s a huge *maybe*, the race could become even better. Sky have the numbers and the strength to rip it apart and try to win it with one of its riders. Probably they just would have to change a couple of slides in their powerpoint, but it would be great fun (and a nightmare for Contador). The terrain is there, starting from today.

    • Pretty much agree, esp with RCS probably not wanting this either. Among other things the free-to-air Australian broadcaster is playing the entirety of the Giro for the first time this year and unashamedly (sometimes hilariously) biased toward Porte and Orica; a conspiracy at least on RCS’s part to trash Porte is not the best idea on that front.

      I’m choosing to look on the bright side (i.e. also fervently hope) it’ll improve the race now Porte can’t just cheese it with the time trial. If Sky gets its groove back it could get preeeeety interesting. In the best case where he wins, Porte will be a hero, if he doesn’t win he’ll still be a ‘little Aussie battler’ (Aussies love those), if nothing else he’ll be remembered for something other than that #@%@#%)!* motorhome!

  42. Blah Blah Blah
    Just shows True Aussie spirit
    Yeah he’ll loose the race probably now but both the boys can hold their heads high with Australian pride
    I remember Phil Anderson passing a drink bottle to the ‘Badger’ only to have him knock it out of his hand

    • I would agree that “true Aussie spirit” often encompasses protesting when rules are enforced and being sanctimonious about Frenchmen 😀

        • To be less dismissive for a change, I like Porte and the national-vs-team camaraderie and tension and I think a 2min penalty was total overkill, but I’m naturally leery of people leaping onto things like this as a patriotic flagpole. Got really sick of the word ‘mateship’ for a while there let me tell you.

    • This is my concern. If Contador or Aru win, with less than a 2 minute advantage over Porte, it will – in many people’s eyes – be a tainted win. A win decided in a jury room rather than on the road. You may or may not agree with the decision, but that is certain to be the narrative. That won’t be good for the sport.

      So I’m hoping for either a Porte comeback to take the jersey or a convincing Contador/Aru win by well over 2 minutes from Porte.

  43. On another note, how funny was it to see the mayor presenting the pink jersey to Contador grab him on the shoulder to congratulate him. Contador nearly jumped out of his skin.

  44. Now if I was a conspiracy theorist (which of course I am not), I could suggest that Sky deliberately held back on the TTT so that OGE could win and get the Maglia Rosa for the first few days in exchange for OGE watching their backs in the latter stages of the race – 😉

  45. Finish today at Imola. J A Fletcha wearing Brazilian shirt as mark of respect to the death of Ayrton Senna. Quite rightly so, but lets not forget another F1 driver lost his life that weekend too Roland Ratzenberger.

      • Love what Max Mosley said afterwards: “Roland had been forgotten. So I went to his funeral because everyone went to Senna’s. I thought it was important that somebody went to his.” I think Senna himself would’ve been proud. “When track officials examined the wreckage of Senna’s racing car, they found a furled Austrian flag. Senna had planned to raise it after the race, in honour of Ratzenberger.”

        Quotes via Wikipedia (

  46. J Evans

    It happened going around a roundabout and according to Clarke, he did well not to crash. I know it doesn’t fit your narrative so feel free to ignore it.

    • Fair enough, I don’t know for sure – although neither do you: that’s just their narrative.
      Was but a minor point amongst all this… well, if it was Italians, we’d call it polemica.

  47. Spot on. It is folly to pursue marginal gains while failing to teach your riders the rules of the sport (as Sky readily admitted). In that respect, the appropriateness of the rule, or the penalty, or the arbitrariness of its application is irrelevant. If you don’t the rules, every ride is a lottery.

  48. I suggest everyone to catch Cycling Central on SBS down under even our panel agree with commssaires decision and we have 2 ex pro’s one a Pink Jersey stage winner himself

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