The Do’s and Don’ts of Racing

As well as Richie Porte and Simon Clarke, Fabio Aru is the latest to say he didn’t know about the rule that bans help from another team. It’s impossible to remember all the UCI rules after all they take enough enough space on a hard drive yet alone your own memory. What’s a rider to do?

Well these rules cover everything from BMX and frame design to media accreditation or World Tour team licence applications, the kind of things that no racer need worry about. So what in-race rules are there to remember if you’ve got a number on your back and your feet clipped into the pedals? Here’s a handy list of do’s and don’ts.

Chapter 1
1.1.002: hold a valid racing licence
1.1.042: if you ride for a team you need their permission to enter a race solo
1.2.019: don’t enter a forbidden or unsanctioned race
1.2.022: if you’re suspended, you’re not allowed to enter zones at races closed to the public
1.2.030: no betting on the sport
1.2.047: if you start a race it is assumed you read the roadbook and race manual
1.2.064: study the route before the race and stick to the route, a hop on a cycle path could get you in trouble
1.2.079: don’t be violent or take actions to harm the image of the sport.
1.2.080: be sporting
1.2.082: you may be held responsible for the accidents you cause
1.2.083: don’t carry glass containers
1.2.108: complete the course under your own steam
1.2.109: you can cross the finish line on foot as long as you have your bike with you
1.2.112: if you win a prize or an award you must attend the podium ceremony
1.2.113: wear your team kit on the podium
1.3.001: have a safe bike that meets the UCI rules
1.3.026: wear shorts and shorts sleeves, no sleeveless tops allowed
1.3.030: your rain jacket has to be transparent or matching the team kit
1.3.031: wear a helmet
1.3.033: you can’t wear non-essential items for performance gains like compression socks
1.3.034: wear only your approved team kit in a race
1.3.054: if you have a leader’s jersey you may wear matching shorts
1.3.055: if you have a leader’s jersey and the race doesn’t provide a skinsuit for a TT you may wear your own
1.3.080: remove your race number if you drop out of a race

Chapter 2
2.2.008: get approval or check before riding a gran fondo
2.2.010: you can be excluded from a race but have the right to a hearing
2.2.024: race radios are only for World Tour and time trials
2.2.025: don’t litter, use the waste zones if provided
2.2.026: wear two race numbers for a road race, one is fine for a time trial
2.2.027: have your number on your bike too
2.2.030: if you’ve quit the race don’t cross the finish line. Use the broom wagon unless you’re ill or injured
2.3.009: show up in time for the race and be sure sign on or you may not be allowed to start
2.3.012: you can share a bottle or food with someone from another team but don’t give them a wheel or your bike
2.3.014: if you’re lapped on a finishing circuit don’t interfere with the race
2.3.027: normally you can’t take food on climbs and descents and neither in the first 50km nor the last 20km
2.3.029: you’re only allowed mechanical help from your team, the neutral service or the broom wagon
2.3.030: in the event of a mechanical, don’t hang on to the team car but stop by the side of the road
2.3.034: stop at a closed level crossing
2.3.036: sprint straight and don’t endanger others
2.3.039: the time cut is normally 8% but may vary
2.3.040: if you finish in a group you’ll all be credited with the same time
2.6.018: if you’re leading a jersey competition in a stage race you should wear the jersey
2.6.026: if you drop out of a stage race normally you can’t resume racing elsewhere until that stage race is over
2.6.027: the three kilometre rule usually applies with three kilometres to go

That’s it, follow these summary guidelines and you’re good to go. Of course there are some unmentioned ones like you may draft another rider and other obvious rules like don’t dope should go without saying. The ones above should help anyway avoid time penalties and fines.

Let’s add the one crucial aspect: don’t get caught. You may sling waste into the countryside as long as there’s no commissaire to spot it, you can ignore a level crossing because of safety in numbers. You can even take a wheel from a rival team like Gianni Meersman did the other day in the Giro but the image wasn’t shared around the world in time for the commissaires to rule.

What is frustrating is that if a saintly rider wanted to respect the rules above they’d probably be at a sporting disadvantage to those who flouted them knowing they could escape punishment. Some rules are sometimes applied inconsistently. A big factor is the impossibility of policing a race in its entirety, if you’re at the back of the bunch you can’t know what’s going on up front nor what’s happening in the race convoy, the field of action is simply too large to monitor. Short of appointing a fleet of moto officials and helicopter surveillance this won’t change. However photographic evidence does seem to have rumbled Porte yet despite video and photo images from several sources and angles nothing yet has come of the riders who ignored the level crossing in Paris-Roubaix. It’s this vacuum that frustrates, some obvious cases are prosecuted while others are ignored and the space between is filled with frustration and confusion. Anyway, don’t say you were not warned.

226 thoughts on “The Do’s and Don’ts of Racing”

    • Yes and I feel for Clarke, he probably thought he was doing something generous and now it’s cost Porte two minutes. Who knows what will happen in the race but Clarke will be remembered for trying to help.

      • A bit simplistic. The mere fact that you help somebody you know/like doesn’t automatically make it unsporting. It’s sporting when you do it irrespective of whether those factors apply. Which we can’t judge here.

        • the key point is nationalism-induced aid is one of the things the rule is trying to prevent, and they just happen to share the same nationality. Could be random. Maybe Clarke was willing to give up his wheel to Aru or Contador, too.

          • I can’t help but wonder what people would have said if Clarke had given Aru a wheel and they were docked 2 minutes… sabotage? 😉

          • Also, it wasn’t only Clarke helping. Mathews and Gerrans waited for Porte, and all of them drafted illegally behind the Orica team car. 3 Aussies & and Aussie team helping an Aussie and breaking 2 rules doing it. Sportsmanship? No, collusion.

          • Sportsmanship is also Andy Schleck not taking advantage of his brother’s accident holding up Contador and then riding behind Cancellara to take twice as much time as Contador took when Schleck dropped his chain.
            Depends how you choose to see it.

        • Actually, by definition, helping someone on that basis does qualify it as unsporting! The notion of “sportsmanship,” as a historical concept, is intended to make sure competition is pursued for its own sake and to “protect” sport from other influences. Originally, in the early 19th-century, this meant protecting competition from commercialism (which is why competitive sport was initially an “amateur” pursuit,), though in this context it’s easily extended to nationalism.

  1. Damn shame all of this …. its been such an exciting Giro so far and it has kinda taken the fizz out of it for me, anybody else feel this way?

    It does seem very handy for the Italians getting rid of another rival to Aru?

    How about the whole Peleton changes a wheel today.

    • Nice idea but judging by how uncohesive these guys are I think the chances of such a sporting gesture are nil. Besides you’d have to make sure it was a day with an odd number of riders or Porte would be hit again.

    • It was the UCI commissars who docked Porte, not the race organizers. The head commissar is German for the Giro and, I believe, the rest are not Italian. The head commissar has a reputation for being strict about the rules and was the person who tossed Ted King for missing the time cut in the TTT in the Tour.

      • Surely Colli, Pozzovivo and many others too think that being fined for breaking a rule is the worst thing that could happen to anybody!!

      • Shawn, funny that in both of the examples you have given, the true culprits were the rider’s own teammates. Porte because he’s a team leader sitting 3rd in a grand tour, on a flat stage and no teammates gave him a wheel. King because the rest of his team at the time were only interested in stage wins and points, and could easily have nursed King around the course within the time limit given that he almost made it on his own. So as much as people shout about how unfair it all is (which I think it is to be fair) it’s all detracting from the fact that this is a team sport where the team has let the rider down.

      • We all know what the problem about people who like enforcing rules on others is, particularly when they rarely get a chance to do so.

      • I can concur with that. That commissar is very well know for this strictness in the German amateur ranks. He hands out the penalties quite easily. Never unjust, but with not much text and finesse.

  2. As you say impossible to remember all the regs. (even commissaires struggle) but it is pretty amazing how ignorant the worlds best riders are and sadly even more amazing how little consistency there is.

  3. “2.3.039: the time cut is normally 8% but may vary”

    It’s this kind of clear guideline that makes the sport what it is.

  4. Slightly off tangent but inrng might know. Where the hell was the team Sky vehicle(s) in this whole brouhaha? All the marginal gains in the world count for nought if you can’t get the basics right.

  5. This whole incident leaves a very sour taste. Its all very well quoting “rules” but we all know they are inconsistently applied and conveniently ignored. Porte was actually hit 3 times yesterday. He ended up 47 seconds behind, the commisaires pulled out the cars so he got no help to catch up AND he got hit with the 2 minutes. I read a comment from some jury member to the affect that they had to give Porte the penalty to keep the Giro a race of integrity. What a joke. They missed Meersman, they have done nothing about numerous examples of drafting and hanging on to cars for the magic spanner and they also failed to disqualify Alberto Contador for removing his helmet whilst riding stage 7. Yes, apparently, removing your helmet during a stage is a disqualifiable offence under UCI rules.

    I laugh in the Giro’s general direction at the idea the race has integrity.

    • They missed Meersman because nobody saw it, he was 10 minutes behind the race and about to abandon. But Porte’s incident happened right in front of the race’s chief commissaire and then was relayed all over the internet.

          • Depends what the helmet rule actually says.
            Also, two wrongs don’t make a right (if interested, see my comment on Giro 11 preview for a more full answer on this).

          • Yeah, I agree with Roger Moore, they’re only interested in getting Richie Porte. They’ve always been obsessed with persecuting Richie and now finally they’ve got him.

          • @Nick
            Yes, but the sanction article refers to the “mandatory” helmet, and even if we could infer that “shall” refers to a “mandatory” element, truth is that right above what you quote there’s a rule about other types of competition which specifies “mandatory helmet”. Tovarisch reported it elsewhere. Why do you differentiate the two very-near commas like that? What I’ve been told by acquittals who race is that this is usually read like: “the difference is that in road racing you can briefly take it off to change your cap and so, whereas in BMX you absolutely can’t”. They’re no judges, so UHJ will know better, but the fact is that the rules appear to include a gray area, because the sanction is referred to a concrete wording which doesn’t belong to the road race rule but to a rule about other types of racing. That’s it. A little opener to debate than the other, no?

          • I think you can infer that, because in road cycling there are circumstances when helmet wearing is merely recommended – when training – whereas in other disciplines it’s mandatory then too. That doesn’t make it any less mandatory during competitions on the road.

            As to why the distinction exists, it would seem that for some reason, the UCI felt it necessary to recast the sentence to cover these different situations in English. Whereas in French, they felt no such need and the same phrase “casque de sécurité rigide est obligatoire” appears in both sections.

            Perhaps Contador got an English-speaking Commisaire, not a Francophone?

          • @Nick
            Good point. Very often you will find these differences between the French and the English version of the regulations. This is quite unfortunate but it has improved. When I graduated back in ’97, only a haphazard version in English existed translated by a volunteer and in some cases the meaning were in fact the opposite in English to the French. And French was the deciding language; if any differences existed, the French should be adhered to.
            Grey areas exist, definately, and riders often avoid sanctions through their numbers: Removing helmets, relieving themselves, the grupetto “hors delais”…
            Personally I tend to go by: Start out strict. Starting out strict makes room for being lenient when it is needed. If you start out lenient, you will have a hard time pulling back if you need to be strict.
            All in all: Did this wrong-doing impede on the sporting aspect of the event? If not, I will most likely be lenient, if it did I will be strict.
            And then again: It also depends on the status of the event. Perhaps the jury felt a need to make a statement? I don’t know.

    • +1. I am not usually one to tweet or reply on forums as I like to read, but this issue has made my blood boil. I just hope the race continues to be as watch-able and exciting as it has been, especially after last years tour being walked by Vincenzo following the crashes etc, I would be really good to see the protagonists actually fight it out on the road.

    • Contador was not sanctioned because he did not flagrantly disregard the rules and then put it all over the internet. Meersman didn’t flagrantly disregard the rules (he doesn’t explicitly say “thanks for the front wheel you gave me”) and post photos all over the internet.

      Porte got busted because this happened in front of the commissaire, with his teammates standing right by.

      To me, the fact that he took a rival wheel as opposed to a teammate’s (who was right there in the foreground of the photo) probably sent the message that “I’m going to take a wheel from Orica so I can have an extra person to pace me back.”

      Had there been no teammates within minutes and the commissaire not there, he gets away with this.

      • “Contador was not sanctioned because he did not flagrantly disregard the rules and then put it all over the internet. Meersman didn’t flagrantly disregard the rules (he doesn’t explicitly say “thanks for the front wheel you gave me”) and post photos all over the internet.”

        And the riders at PR who crossed the train crossing on international television during the most popular spring classic? It’s this sort of inconsistency that is making people angry.

  6. I disagree about the idea there are lots of rules for cyclists, particularly pro-cyclists, to know. Most of the above are entirely self-evident and are not obscure. Compared to for instance golf, a cyclist has next to nothing to know about in terms of rules. To me the idea of someone whose entire adult and professional life involves riding a bike – for that person to be in ignorance of something so obvious and easily known as you can only get a wheel from another rider if that rider is a team-mate is pretty pathetic. Team Sky for instance have their eureka moment and bring their motor-home around Italy for Porte to gain a few seconds on his rivals, they’re looking into every nook and cranny in their thorough professionalism . . . but eh . . . wait a minute, in the duration of a decade or so long career Porte didn’t spend 20 minutes familiarising himself with a few rules. Marginal gains? Well that was a significant loss. Could it have been avoided through being more professional? I htink that would be a yes.

    • Where was this comment when half the peloton crossed a train line in front of a moving express train? And where was the penalty?

      • I’m so happy to see these brand new Anglosaxon nationalistic fans get schooled.

        This rule is thirty years old, and if you’ve raced in youth ranks … you know this rule. If you ride track only until you’re 25 you obviously don’t know.

        Another upside, Porte has to attack, so it might even ad to this already great Giro.

    • +1 Plenty of comments in the past about WORKERS and JOBS…so why shouldn’t a PRO know his or her JOB inside and out? If this is the best SKY can do, they don’t deserve to win the Giro.
      Overall this fiasco has a chance to make things more interesting, not less. Porte has been expected to take big time gains in Saturday’s chrono, but now those will just put him back in contention so he’ll need to attack elsewhere. Meanwhile Uran is kind of back in the picture too as a good chrono man vs climbers Contador and Aru. W Il Giro!

      • +2. Spot on. Professionals should know the rules of their own profession. Not only power in the legs. Even if Porte isn’t one to be blamed, then somebody in his team car should tell him not to take wheel from Clarke but from one of his team-mates for instance. Even waiting for own car shouldn’t waste him 2 minutes.

        • I’m glad someone brought up motorsport, this is a world I understand. I have been reading RACMSA, then MSA, then FIA rulebooks since I was 8 (I am now 32). I completely get that people forget things in the heat of the moment, and even if Porte knew the rule, he might not have processed it at the time. Where I think the blame lies is with the DS. In motorsport, as a driver I was treated as somewhat of an idiot whilst driving, just to make sure no rules were broken. Coming into the pits for the 20th time over a race weekend, I was still reminded about pit speed over the radio. The Team Manager (read DS) is always in control and makes sure you know any rules you may have forgotten. Why did the DS not tell him not to take the wheel? This is where my lack of cycling knowledge comes in. How much contact do they have over radio? Would he have radioed as soon as he got the puncture? If not, why not? The more info you give to the DS, the more they can help you. They can be your brain so you can worry about racing. If he said he was getting help from Clarke over the radio, the DS would surely have been able to tell him to stop. If the DS didn’t know the rule then it’s inexcusable, the most privateer of privateer Team Managers at Le Mans knows the rules, Sky should definitely know.

        • I find this whole discussion amazing! In rallying we used to bend the rules all the time (illegal servicing, modifications to the exhaust after noise check, etc.). 99% of the time you’d get away with it because there are not enough officials to police the whole event but if you got caught you take it on the chin – and in both the above cases it was usually disqualification. You’d never complain about other people getting away with it.

    • So your saying in the heat of the moment – you have just punctured – the adrenaline pumping – the convoy is flying past – your losing time – a mate from another team offers you his wheel BUT so pathetic of you in that moment that you didn’t remember of all of the UCI rules…

      Get real.

    • Marginal gains vs. Significant loss. Well put, Andy!

      What’s more, it seems to me this whole discussion is turned on it’s head. In stead of calling out for an explicit rule to be ignored (!), the cycling community should be calling out for this and other rules to be enforced! (Or, if obsolete, removed from the book, but that’s another story entirely…)

  7. “1.2.079: don’t be violent or take actions to harm the image of the sport.”

    In my opinion, the penalty imposed on Porte has done plenty to harm the image of the sport.

    • Yeah, it gives the idea professional cyclists can’t be arsed knowing the basic rules of the sport they earn their living from. Really makes them look amateur.

      • And all those people, even just in this race, who draft back to the peloton behind cars? Those who hold onto cars and receive mechanical assistance? All against the rules. But strangely not often punished. So why would you blame the rider when he has no idea on any given day which rules will be enforced and which ignored?

        It is a farce.

        • I don’t think it’s a farce at all. The getting of a wheel from a ‘rival’ cyclist is unlike drafting not a normal occurrence, and particularly a GC contender should be perfectly aware that it is both a rule and that it would be very unwise to risk breaking it. There’s a phrase, “Nobody’s fault but my own.” Sky drag a motor-home around Italy to shave off a few seconds but don’t look after the team-leader properly or act in accordance with such an obvious rule.

          • Sam, in the photo you can clearly see a Sky rider standing next to Porte and Clarke when they are fitting the wheel.
            You get your wheel from your team mate.

          • I can only assume that sportsmanship is a concept foreign to you and so your obtuseness is explained. The UCI have no such excuse, on the other hand, as their rules even mention the concept.

          • J Evans: the wheel fitting was already done bar the shouting by the time team mates arrived. To use Vaughter’s phrase, in the heat of battle riders don’t necessarily think clearly in terms of ‘oh we must lose more seconds to remove Clarke’s wheel and replace it with Eisel’s’ (or whoevers). The adrenaline’s flowing like bonkers. What might seem logical to all we keyboard warriors just isn’t in tune with what’s going on in the riders’ heads right then, right there.

          • And yet I’m always hearing about how the riders don’t have to think because the DS tells them everything over the radio.
            The rule is there, the teams should know it and it exists to stop teams colluding. I’m going to stop now as I’m only going to repeat what I have already said on today’s stage preview.

          • Porte stopped on the left side of the road. You’re supposed to stop on the right side of the road. Another error. And that’s why his team mates were on the right side of the road.
            Sky have a lot to earn about racing knowledge.

          • Sam. That’s a very poor excuse. In most sports you have to make rapid, on the spot decisions with the adrenaline flowing. Cyclist get off very lightly in this regard.

          • The fact Porte did it and openly commented about it after the race indicates it’s not an obvious rule. It’s quite clear he wasn’t aware he was breaking a rule. I think drafting team cars, and getting a push are far more obvious rules that are frequently violated but are chosen to be ignored by race officials. The issue here is inconsistency in enforcing rules.

        • Here’s a very simple equation for you, Roger:

          If you’re a GC contender, you have a spotlight on you. Keep your nose exceptionally clean, because you’ll very likely get caught doing something you shouldn’t be.

          • This still doesn’t explain the guys drafting cars on television that aren’t penalised. Or the riders crossing train lines at Paris Roubaix etc etc etc

  8. I like to see cycling as run in the same vein as cricket used to be. The spirit of the game is written into the laws, you don’t know exactly how to define it, but you know when it’s broken. Umpires have the ultimate power and are respected utterly, but use it sparingly and with discretion. Why fine or punish a player when a quiet word will do? The transgressors are usually players leaving the umpire no option but to follow the letter of the law and they are the ones who put themselves in that position (Run out at the none-strikers end without a warning, for example).

    Cycling for me, with arbitrary exemptions to the time cut, allowing riders to take sustaence from spectators and competitors, the peloton waiting for a fallen leader or calling a ceasefire for a toilet stop is in the same vein.

    Porte for me, has been treated incredibly harshly for a random occurance that I think the 45s he would have lost would have adequately covered.

  9. I think it is the best moment to summarize this tour in few words. Nothing changed since Lance Armstrong has decided to end of his career. Team Astana is going to win this tour. The question is how they want to achive this purpose. Form me it is obvious that Aru, Kreuziger, and other members of team Astana taking enhancing drugs. I am also convinced that no one have even tiny chance to compete with Asana during Giro. Of course someone could point on Contador. After all he is leading now. But I can assure you the whole race will win Aru. And that is ridicules.

    • What sanctions will we see if the traditional 3rd week donation of Italian teammates from those out of the GC fight to Aru’s cause comes to pass?

      May I guess?

      • Mmmm… Give some examples, please, since I’ve got a little list of different situation which would show that money (or future contracts) is the thing, much more than nationality. Italians tend to be pugnacious between them, and will sometime help a leader from abroad against any *fellow* Italian. Well, Spain is different. Don’t get confused.

        • My understanding from my readings (I’m not personally familiar with Italian cycling) is that where only one italian can win, the gruppo will do everything in it’s power to ensure he prevails over a foreigner.

          • That’s simply false (whereas it may hold some truth when you speak about Spain, the Robert Millar thing, Contador in the 2011 Giro etc.).
            The Reverberi team helping Contador over Giau against his Italian rival (Riccò) is probably one of the best examples ever. Speaking of Giau, the same happened when Nibali attacked there, far away from the finish, in 2011 Giro. Contador was helped by fellow Spaniards from other teams and a couple of Italians who hadn’t much to do with the GC. Scarponi, Basso and Cunego didn’t collaborate much in 2012, nor Basso was receiving any Italian help outside his team in 2010 (Scarponi wasn’t helping at all on the Aprica, for example, and rightly so… but he ought to, according to these theories). In 2009 Basso and Pellizotti were attacking Di Luca, not helping him, even if Menchov was going to win the Giro. In 2004 Cunego was opposed to Popovych and Honchar, still Garzelli and his own teammate Simoni attacked him hard, putting at risk an Italian victory. It was mainly Honchar who helped Cunego. Savoldelli has been helped by foreign riders of foreign teams, when he was left without a team and other Italians were attacking him.
            I could go on for pages. I don’t mean it didn’t happen in some edition I can’t recall, it’s very possible that it was like that some year, but the general rule goes in the opposite direction. And it’s not a modern thing, you know. Roche and Visentini…
            Better you review the truthfulness of your readings, or check if they’re speaking of the Fifties or something like that (and neither then was it a general thing, I’m afraid: internal rivalries have always been very strong).

      • Don’t get me wrong, the tension between national and trade loyaties is one of the things I like in my mythical “spirit of cycling”

  10. Didn’t Paris-Roubaix commissaires gave the reasons why they decided not to punish the riders? And one of the reasons, and arguably the most important one, is they respect the “spirit of rule”.
    If this decision of Paris-Roubaix commissaires’ is correct and makes sense, then I really don’t understand why the Giro ones chose to penalize Porte/Clarke.

    • Its easy. Its called the principle of making the rules up as you go along. And it encourages riders to cheat to see what they can get away with.

      The rulemakers and policemen of the sport blow it again.

    • I could have a very good guess at their reasoning. Whilst they could identify 10, 50, 75% of the offenders, they couldn’t identify them all. It would be totally wrong to sanction some and let the others get away scot free.

  11. What about drafting behind cars? I know it’s not allowed, but I’d like to know the wording, as it’s probably the most ignored rule of them all.

  12. Many of those are regularly broken in full public view and are not punished.

    What does make me laugh is the rule immediately preceding 1.2.080 “be sporting”. In 1.2.079 it says ” don’t be violent or take actions that harm the image of the sport” – is this the UCI saying “do as I say, not as I do”? Surely, the decision to penalise Porte contradicts this very rule?

    This was a massive opportunity for the UCI to do something massively positive as nobody wants to see anyone lose a Grand Tour due to a penalty do they?

    What interests me is I’d like to hear the UCI explain why Contador wasn’t penalised for attacking Schleck when he had his dropped chain in 2010 (I think), given he broke rule 1.2.080 yet Porte, and more particularly Clarke, were penalised for this infaction with Clarke actually abiding by the rule (accepting there is a rule that does explicitly state you cannot give your wheel to someone else.

    Utter, utter madness and I for one will not be as eagerly interested in the Giro as a result of this! I normally watch every stage, either the live stage or the highlights, but, quite frankly cannot be arsed now given the UCI chooses not to use its discretion to nulify something which penalises the fans as much as the rider

  13. “2.3.029: you’re only allowed mechanical help from your team, the neutral service or the broom wagon”

    Interesting – all those guys holding wheels in critical sections of the cobbled classics. I know many are team helpers but for sure a large number are also just Belgian guys with a nice wheelset.

    I’ve always wondered what the motivation for that was – do they get to keep the team wheel that gets left? Do they get to meet up with the rider/team post race to get their wheel back and get a cap and bottle?

    Beyond actually giving wheels there are also many occasions where people on the side of the road help with a wheel change between team mates (pros can be just the shittest mechanics!), a dropped chain, a push etc….Like yesterday it is great image of the sport – the general public as active participants…. but strictly against the rules.

    On another note the comparison with golf and its strict adherence of their rules is spurious – the bigger issue is the UCI choosing when to be strict and when to slacken the rules. Time cut? Yeah fine…..he fought hard all day and was alone without team support (Suitcase of courage rule). Ted King on the first stage of the tour? Too bad. Go f*&k yourself.

    • Also just sprung to mind:

      What would happen in the event of an overly patriotic neutral service not offering prompt support to the rival of local in the lead of a race? Would this be considered mitigating circumstances and allow support beyond the realms of the rule?

      Does it sound far fetched? Does it sound like something that only happened in Italy and then ceased to happen by the late 80s?

      Cadel Evans and the 2009 Vuelta might argue otherwise.

        • possibly still a neo pro!!

          Interesting as Cadel and Clarke are good mates but I always thought the kind of matey blokey Aussies from O’Grady down had a respect for Cadel that perhaps didn’t go towards being mates – as played out by them supposedly backing Gerrans for the 2009 worlds and Cadel having to work on his own (and also not staying out on the piss with the boyz afterwards but going home with his wife).

          Anyway, not sure what point I am making here except that Simon Clarke seems to be mates with everyone – or certainly the Aussies.

  14. Some of the UCI rules are a joke, they where made in a completely different era, when the sport was completely different, and worst then that they are applied with no rule, you don’t need to go back much to seen this arbitrarity.

  15. I dont’ see any reason to watch this shit. First of all Uci should take care about Team Astana! They must be banned!! What is a pleasure to watch cheaters? Someone should stop this madness finally until cycling will drown cesspool.

    • Team Astana are 10th on the UCI world rankings for this year so far. They’re behind ETIXX – QUICK STEP (EQS) BEL 835
      2 4 TEAM KATUSHA (KAT) RUS 828
      3 2 TEAM SKY (SKY) GBR 723
      4 3 MOVISTAR TEAM (MOV) ESP 684
      5 5 BMC RACING TEAM (BMC) USA 411
      7 6 TINKOFF – SAXO (TCS) RUS 357
      8 8 LAMPRE – MERIDA (LAM) ITA 319

      Doesn’t exactly suggest a team that’s dominating outrageously to me. Their best placed individual rider so far is L:ars Boom in 24th.

  16. I have a video of Iljo Keisse taking a beer from our cycling club on his 80km solo ride to the finish of Paris Roubaix that I hope the UCI never get hold of.

    Although given he was DQ’d for not making the time cut and his travails with them over his positive test, I’m not sure what else they could do to him.

    • I was amused that Sky’s “cutting edge” camper van wheeze was executed with the exact same model Sven Nys has been using through sponsorship for the last 5 years or so.

      • apparently it came out of conversations with motoGP riders (lots of friends between the different disciplines) who were amazed that the top pros shared rooms in budget hotels, when everyone in the motoGP (and similar) paddock has been doing the motor home thing for years.

  17. Clarke reached the finish line some 6 minutes down, that could give Mr Porte an idea where he would have finished without the help and the penalty. I think he shouldn’t complain too much.

    • You neglect to mention that in that case it’s all fair enough. What is at issue here is that sportsmanship gets punished and that is seen to be wrong. To most right-thinking people anyway. And there is also the big issue of the inconsistency in application of the UCI’s outdated and archaic rulebook.

      • “Right-thinking people” Is that said with any sense of irony? Or do you genuinely mean right-thinking people means you and others who think the same as you?

        • “Right-thinking people” is a reference to people for whom sportsmanship is an active concept in the taking part of sporting events. They are people who think it should be encouraged and certainly never punished. You appear to have chosen to not be counted among such people by your comments. Fair enough.

          • Sportsmanship or nationalism?
            Or helping a friend?
            Not the same things.
            Would he have stopped for Contador. If not, then it’s not sportsmanship.

          • Would Dave Brailsford be one of these slapping selves on backs right-thinking people I wonder. He criticised the penalty on Porte talking about the letter of the rule rather than the spirit of the rule. Dave was Team Manager or whatever the official title of the British Olympics track team in the 2012 Olympics. In the Mens Team Sprint Philip Hindes said after winning gold: ‘We were saying if we have a bad start, we need to crash to get a restart. I just crashed, I did it on purpose to get a restart, just to have the fastest ride. I did it. So it was all planned, really.’
            Now that’s what I call invoking the letter of the law rather than the spirit. And you culd say suggests plenty about how Dave Brailsford considers the spirit of a law should be operated on.

          • “Time for a lie down, Sir?”

            I’m not a right-thinking person. You can’t expect me to be gentlemanly & discreet enough to avoid mentioning awkward things.

          • Oh, I meant ‘Sir Roger’ hence the capitalisation of the ‘Sir’ – out of respect, of course.
            You’re making perfect sense Andrew – I’m not envisaging you lying on the floor thrashing your arms with snot streaming out of your nose.

    • nope. Because he has Sky team mates with him who arrived just as Clarke and Porte had finished changing over the wheel (having been held up as explained by Porte on the Sky website). Clarke then had to wait ages for his wheel to be replaced.

      So Porte wouldnt have finished 6 minutes down. A few more seconds than he did, of course, but not Clarke levels.

      • Well, then why did the Sky blokes not lend him a wheel? I seriously don’t get the noise on this topic. Rules are rules and the riders sign up to them once they register for a UCI sanctioned race. End of the story.

  18. Love the comments here of sanctimonious disapproval of riders ‘not knowing every one of the UCI’s rules’

    How many of these experts know every single rule laid down in their company’s employee handbook (where applicable)? Hilarious stuff.

    Even more amusing is that in a workplace in say, the UK, the inconsistency of the application of a rule as a term and condition of employment translates into ‘custom and practice’, rendering any subsequent disciplinary action for breach a tad obsolete in the face of a tribunal.

    Hey ho, consistency thy name is cycling.

    • That a pro-cyclist can’t get a wheel from a rival team is very, very far from obscure. Not knowing this is about as shoddy as a golfer imagining he could use a club of an opponent’s after he has unfortunately broken one of his own. This doesn’t remotely equate to some tiny between the lines obscure detail only the obsessed would know. Tobh I find it staggering a pro could be in ignorance of it – and there’s probably a good chance Porte deep down wasn’t in ignorance.

    • I’m enjoying the sanctimonious ‘It’s sportsmanship!’ (it’s not) wailings along with the ‘Other rules are broken, so this one should be’ logic.

  19. While I completely understand the impulse of a friend, co-national, and/or potential future teammate (if Porte jumps to Orica), lending a wheel. However, luck is a central part of every race. One can bemoan the bad luck of a rider puncturing at the wrong moment or being crashed into. If we allow people from other teams to mitigate bad luck only for friends, etc., then we are allowing a kind of unfair advantage. This seems to be both the letter and ‘spirit’ of the law and Clarke & Porte violated both.

  20. Did Meersman get his wheel from a Sky rider or from the Sky team car?
    When reading the rule very strictly, it seems to me it’s only disallowing taking a wheel from another rider, not from another team’s support car.

  21. 1.3.033: you can’t wear non-essential items for performance gains like compression socks

    OK, I don’t get this one at all. What’s the point of this rule and how do aero-helmets not apply? Are helmets essential in a way that a sock isn’t?

    • A helmet can be shaped one way or another but you can’t wear a fairing on your back. There are deeper rules to this but a pro won’t have to worry because their managers will have selected appropriate materials.

      • Doesn’t the fact that the riders wear one kind of compact helmet in road stages indicate prima facie that the more elongated shape of the helmets in TTs is purely about aerodynamics? So shouldn’t the latter be banned?

  22. Fandom storm ongoing, I’d say. It looks like most people’s respect for rules has the variable-sweep wing of a F-14 Tomcat. I’ll take notes for the next doping debate: “if rules aren’t applied consistently and in every single case, hence you’d better avoid punishing any single offender (even if he’s exhibitting himself on the web while infringing the rule ^__^)”.
    Yeah, and conspiracy theories… they’re ok now! Italians, you know, Machiavelli and so on (despite a collection of facts showing opposite behaviours): it sure is an obscure plot, thought manipulation on the international jury. They put something in their cappuccino.
    Quite funny to see how deep is rooted a supposed *lawful* culture: roots goes down that couple of inches, just before they find the solid rock of nationalism against which they invariably stop.

    • To be honest, gabriele, there’s a lot of people protesting about aspects of this 2 minute penalty, from all different countries, all over social media. Pls don’t get on the ‘nationalism’ bandwagon thing, just because a couple of people are talking about conspiracies or whatever.

      • According to Porte, Clarke stopped out of nationalism and friendship.

        And all this agitation and histrioinics is coming from fanboys.

        I’m not happy about it either – it’s detrimental to the Giro – but any neutral can see that the rules were correctly applied and that Porte/Sky were at fault.

    • You missed the point. The rules aren’t applied consistently and in every single case, it probably implies the spirit of the rule (and not the rule itself) should be followed. Heck, Paris-Roubaix commissaires even use this “spirit of rule” in their statement.
      And it’s really hard to argue Porte/Clarke violate “spirit of rule” more than drafting behind team cars, which is also against rules and almost never punished.

      • The Roubaix case has been criticised on these same pages. Besides that, which is another complex story, indeed, I think that also the “spirit of the rule” have been slightly violated here.
        The rule is about *teams*, hence it’s considered relevant that the help you’ll receive is from your team.
        The spirit of the rule is about the resources you can have access to, and they’re your team’s. Period.
        Porte got separated from *all* his teammates because of a roundabout, as he himself explained: that’s a significant error in tactics and positioning. If he took Clarke’s wheel instead of one from some temammate, apparently it was the easier thing to do in that moment, even if a teammate may have arrived in a few secs time. But maybe Porte didn’t know. Maybe he was starting to panick. This has an effect on racing and performance (did you see him losing the wheels of the teammates while chasing?). Clarke’s wheel made for a beautiful photo, but it was not exactly all self-sacrifice, it was more like: “hell friend, I’m out of competition right now, I don’t care about waiting some minutes, take an advantage from it”. In a team sport that’s not so innocent.
        It helped emend a factual error by Porte’s team. Even if in terms of real consequences a little maybe would have changed (we’ll never know), in terms of “spirit of the rule” it wasn’t that okay, either.
        Even if, without photos, I agree it could be tolerated, and in fact no protest had been filed by rival teams. Still it was breaking a rule, and once it’s public the jury doesn’t have much of a choice. In this case, the “spirit of the rule” argument is quite hard to defend, possibly here it is even harder than in Roubaix.

    • +1 I think this is the reason football (soccer) is not so popular in the New World. There sports are seen as needing to be “just and fair” with instant replays and play stopped while the refs review what happened, electronic gizmos to determine whether the ball was in or out of bounds, etc. Europeans prefer sports that are more like life. Sometimes cheaters get away with it, sometimes they don’t. Just like when you drive too fast in your car. do they catch you every time? Cycling is similar and perhaps that’s why it’s not so popular in the New World either? How many commenters on here are from countries where pro cycling is a mainstream sport covered like MLB in the USA? Or NHL in Canada? Or cricket or rugby in Australia? Face it…your guy and his team f__ed up big time, were caught and penalized. Marginal brains and all that. The old “But Mommy, the other guys did it too!” or “Look Dad, Billy is doing what you just gave me a time-out for!” is just whining. Inrng deserves better.

      • Thanks Larry, you just spared me a good lot of time-consuming-and-nothing-achieving answers (at least, wherever someone else hadn’t already provided, luckily – and also thanks to them).
        Helmets off to you! 🙂

        • Please stop I’m bored.

          Larry has spoken sense,

          P.S. how do we know that Porte didn’t promise to wire $20K Swiss francs to Clarke’s Swiss bank acct?

          • Larry, this does make sense. However, in Australia the most popular sport is Aussie Rules Football. Anyone who has watched it will know, its extremely loose with its rules. As you put it, a sport with a more “European” flavored ethic.

      • Rugby’s an odd example, given that it attracts large (paying) crowds in Europe and is almost the epitome of a sport whose penalties are arbitrary more often than they’re comprehensible: decisions during scrums make those on sprinting dangerously seem like the model of consistency.

  23. Well I guess Porte (and Contador for that matter) should be happy to be in the race. He and Clarke should actually have been DQd from the race. The same rule that he was sanctions for says that you can’t push a rider from another team or be pushed. The photo shows this very clearly. I guess the UCI gets to pick and choose which rules to enforce. As for Meersman he admits to breaking a rule and should also be sanctioned. How much more proof do you need? The fact that this happened earlier in the same race and nothing was done about it makes the UCI a laughing stock. They have until the end of the race to fix this. I wonder if it will happen?

    • Why Contador? The helmet thing is not exactly as you thought, and in any case not by far as clear cut as Porte’s thing. The pushing thing has been equally explained somewhere else. What sense does it make to hold a sort of debate if people go on repeating the same thing?

      2′ more or less on Meersman are irrelevant, which means that failing to apply the rule doesn’t alter the competition, whereas, being the rules as they are, suspending them for Porte would make a big difference in the GC and would hence be unfair towards the others. He made an unfortunate error, just as when you fall to the ground, at least he didn’t report physical consequences as it would have been in that case and can race on.

      The Roubaix thing is serious, and it’s quite false that on this blog people switched their mind or didn’t express themselves on the subject. There were different opinions, but the need to enforce the rule was widely supported, the commisaires got their good share of blame not having done so.
      Let’s keep it clear: not enforcing a clear rule is wrong, sad it may be in this case, and if in other occasions things have gone wrong, I can’t see a valid point to insist in the same error, as J Evans says.

      Note that most circumstances cited as “inconsistency” are widely open to debate (gray areas in rule formulation like the helmet question; arbitrary intepretation of what is happening, like riders “waiting” or just “slowing” – people *interpret* that, probably right, still it’s an interpretation not a fact; the whole “pushing” debate…), while the trouble in which Porte incurred is adamant and saw exactly the same behaviours by juries when it affected the GC.

      • There’re way too many examples that clearly a rule is broken and with video evidence and nothing is done. For example, holding onto the team car (e.g. Nibali WC 2013), blatant drafting in ITT (e.g. Henao/Kelderman Giro 2013), drafting behind team cars for excessive time(numerous examples), using the sidewalks (numerous cobbled races. ok, this one has a pretty vague and unclear rule). Not just the Paris Roubaix one. Paris Roubaix one is special because the comms gave the exact reason that they made the decision: follow the “spirit of the rule”. I agree with the Paris Roubaix comms, you should follow the “spirit of the rule”, if it’s already almost always the case in road cycling(and it is).

          • You cannot really argue Porte/Clarke is against the spirit of rule and drafting behind team car after crashing/mechanical is following the spirit of rule. I think both are following the spirit of rule: crashing/mechanical(especially mechanical) is an unlucky and unfortunate event, and could been given some help in the way of less strict enforcement of rule than normal. Hence why no punishment for drafting behind team car after crashing/mechanical.

          • Of course, what I think is not important. But almost-universally no punishment for drafting behind team car after crash/mech can serve as precedent for Porte/Clarke case.

      • Applying the law equally in all situations is never irrelevant. As I have stated before Porte was correctly penalised. Meersman should be penalised regardless of his position in the race. This is exactly the same thing that most people have been saying. They want to see consistency from the UCI.

        I started the discussion on pushing in the other thread. It was not actually explained at all. Mr Inner Ring gave an opinion “The push to restart a rider is tolerated, the rules surely mean pushing a rider for longer, eg up a climb.” As much as I value his opinion “surely” is not fact. The rule states

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

        This part of the rule is as clear as the part about swapping wheels. All pushing is forbidden.

        As for the “helmet thing” the full rule is as follows:

        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. During training on the road, the wearing of a rigid safety helmet is recommended. However, riders must always comply with the legal provisions in this regard.

        This too is not ambiguous as you contest here and in your previous thread. What is “gray” about this? He took his helmet off, while competing and I have just seen him do again in stage 11. This is very clear. He is competing without wearing a helmet. The penalty is disqualification. The only difference between the rules for different types of events is that you don’t have to wear a helmet when training on the road unless the road rules says you have to.

        If you are going to try and assert that what I am saying is wrong in this “debate” please show me the rules. If there are sub rules to these somewhere that agree with what you are saying please quote them and I will be happy to release my opinions.

        • The rule does NOT say “and must be worn at all times.” Nor does it say (as it does elsewhere in the regs “it is strictly forbidden.”

          The rule DOES state in 1.3.031 1.
          3. “Each rider shall be responsible for wearing the helmet in accordance with the security regulations in order to ensure full protection, including but not limited to a correct adjustment on the head as well as a correct adjustment of the chin strap.” Contador was making adjustment.

          1.3.033 states “Items of clothing or equipment may be considered essential where weather conditions make them appropriate for the safety or the health of the rider. In this case, the nature and texture of the clothing or equipment must be clearly and solely justified by the need to protect the rider from bad weather conditions. Discretion in this respect is left to the
          race commissaires.” Contador was quickly putting on a cap to deflect water from his eyesight, a safety measure for him and all other riders.

          • It doesn’t say those things because it’s not mandatory to wear it during training, only during competition. And once a rule says “a helmet shall be worn during competition”, it’s not necessary to say “and it’s forbidden not to wear it”, because that’s simply repetition.

            The rule is clear. But it’s equally clear that it’s overlooked where that’s the sensible thing to do.

  24. Is this really how it is written?

    the three kilometre rule usually applies with three kilometres to go

    Otherwise, good article as always.

  25. As others have said 2 minutes is probably better than the time he probably would have lost waiting for the team/neutral service car to arrive! Lets get on with the race.

    • His team mates weren’t far away, he could have got a wheel from them within, say 10-20 seconds. But it would have meant one less team mate to pace him back of course so the time gap could have been smaller.

      As ever when disaster strikes it’s a chain of events, not just a puncture but it happens just when the bunch is going at 60km/h, then to get separated from team mates, to stop on the wrong side of the road etc.

      • I would say a situation like that happens too fast – to even be able to think about having an extra team mate to pace back. or maybe I am too naive? In any case, it is supposition only.

      • Clarke could have easily joined Matthews in pulling Porte back to the peloton, so I think this just confirms they weren’t aware of the rule. Unfortunately it was Clarke’s wheel that was the first available.

  26. Gabriele: Nobody as far as I know has commented on the relationship between a wheel change and doping, other than you. My guess is that most posters who are disgusted at the way Porte and Clarke have been treated, would welcome life time bans for all dopers. Your point is fatuous and not deserving of your normal level of posting. Laws in society are generally written in such a way that some discussion is possible over the salient point/s.

    The real point here is how the rules are/not applied, by some arbitrary UCI appointed group of judges, that by their very nature are different at most events – don’t complain about my apparent contempt for judges, I have been one. Other posters have given endless examples of the uneven handed approach to rules and penalties, I don’t intend to repeat.

    This is a sport that should be about fair competition, where the best man wins. Not a competition decided by the whims of faceless people. Rules are rules. Common sense is common sense. Uniformity is uniformity. The first is of little use if the last two are absent, which they are clearly are.

    If I were the UCI, a wheel change at the Giro would be the least of my concerns about the way the event is unfolding !

    • “My guess is that most posters who are disgusted at the way Porte and Clarke have been treated, would welcome life time bans for all dopers”. That’s the problem.

      “How the rules are/not applied, by some arbitrary UCI appointed group of judges, that by their very nature are different at most events”; “rules are rules. Common sense is common sense. Uniformity is uniformity. The first is of little use if the last two are absent, which they are clearly are”. Which applies, in different forms, to a lot of doping cases (including D. Caruso’s, reported by another reader as “banned for doping”). But then it’s harder to see it. Quite the contrary.

      “Other posters have given endless examples of the uneven handed approach to rules and penalties, I don’t intend to repeat”. Most of them, citing situations not appropriate for a comparison and lacking appropriate information on the sources (like, they read just inrng resume above). More than everything, if sometimes the jury has been wrong, no reason to insist in the error now.

      But, ok, mine about doping was mainly a joke – as it could be assumed by the rest of the post. I’m quite shocked by this story and didn’t like it, however I fail to see a better outcome for the situation that was created because I can’t see as a positive thing that the rules weren’t applied when all the world saw them broken and some were already commenting about it.

  27. So maybe the letter of the law was applied.

    The thing that riles me is the blatant double-standards and inconsistency that the UCI/Comms/Orgs show.

    Vegni comes out saying “But clearly there was little to be done, rules are rules, and I think rules have to be respected for the credibility of this sport and, in this case, the credibility of the Giro d’Italia.”


    Do they apply these rules consistently, for the credibility of the sport?

    * 1.3.030 – Rain jackets
    * 2.3.034 – Level crossings
    * 2.2.025 – Littering
    * 2.3.027 – No feeds on climbs
    * 2.3.030 – Mechanical assistance only when stopped
    * 2.3.031 – No equipment held out of cars

    • The littering one really needs 0-tolerance enforcement.

      Because of the pros throwing stuff all over the place on TV, every bloody MAMIL on a sportive thinks they can do the same – “Look Pro!”. It’s disgusting to go down a road in the countryside after a sportive has been through and see all the plastic rubbish in the hedges. Disgraceful.

      Fine the pros heavily!

  28. It’s an unfortunate situation, but I do wonder what the reaction would have been if, say, Aru had a puncture and, say, an Italian from a different team (Cunego, Gatto, Petacchi, to name a few) gave him their front wheel in front of the commissaries, and both offending riders went unpunished. Surely there would be some sort of cry of “Italian conspiracy”, wouldn’t it? I’m fairly sure some supporters of other GC contenders would be calling for a strict application of the rules.

    My point is, we all like it when the rules benefit us, and complain when they go against us.

  29. wow I read trough half of the comments, if this have already been mentioned I am sorry.

    I don’t have a link, but one of these far to frequent bike-thefts(where thieves steal all the teams bikes) I remember a story of another team lending bikes to the team that had theirs stolen.
    I might be different because it is out of the race-context.

    be nice to each other in here guys, the is as good as it gets regarding news and insights for pro-cycling – insulting and provocative comments is not benefiting anyone…


  30. Can’t wait to hear what penalty applies to Contador riding without his helmet, in clear view of the chopper for a good 15 or more seconds, in today’s stage as broadcast internationally. It’s impossible to claim that the images were not available to the jury, or not widely disseminated. Or was he just proving that the jury won’t touch him?

    • None presumably, I’m not sure why people see it so literally. You’re allowed to you remove your helmet to remove a cap or if, say, a hornet has flown in or you’ve crashed and need a new one. Similarly the rules say you have to be fully clothed but they let people take a pee break or if they’ve crashed, change their jersey, etc. This is a very established precedent of course.

    • So, tell us how much time do think Contador gained for putting on a cap under the helmet? Just round it off to minutes, if you’re as bad as math as you are in logic.

      He did it for safety reasons, for him and other riders.

  31. Regardless of inconsistency of applying the rules, when they are applied, the punishment should be fair and proportionate. This was not.
    No-one is claiming Orica Greenedge has superior wheels to Sky, and that Porte gained an advantage that way.
    No-one is suggesting that there was any pre-planning by Porte, Clarke, Sky or Orica Greenedge. It was purely on the spur of the moment.
    Porte lost time on the other riders. How much time did he not lose by taking Simon Clarke’s wheel rather than a team-mate’s or from neutral service or a team car? I doubt very much if it would have amounted to two minutes.
    That gives the impression that the two-minute penalty was intended to be punitive and not to correct an unfair advantage gained through breaking the rules.
    Both riders were fined in addition to the two-minute penalties.
    As far as I know, no other rider received a time penalty that stage or for any other rules infraction during the Giro this year.
    The two-minute penalty is having a major adverse impact on the race. If Porte does not win but finishes within two minutes of the winner there will always be a question mark over the winner’s win, however well deserved.
    The role of the commissionaires is to ensure a fair race conducted according to the rules.
    The two-minute penalty does not achieve this and is disproportionate to the infringement, which can be adequately covered by a fine. It should therefore be removed for both riders.

  32. You ask, how much time did he not lose?
    Porte finished 1:05 behind winner. Clarke came in 6:41.

    Sky simply made a calculation; grab a non-Sky wheel and pay the 2 minute penalty, instead of waiting for a team car or neutral support and losing even more time. They limited their losses. It’s the cost of doing business.

    The misjudgement was not using a Sky wheel, and sacrificing 1 rider out of 5 to help pace back. Now that would have costs less than 2 minutes, even without Orica’s Mathews helping to pace.

    • I don’t get it. You and others are making the same common mistake of missing the forest for the trees.

      Here’s the most important point: we don’t want anyone ever to lose time because of a mechanical. Mechanicals are not interesting, they have nothing do with sport, and if we could, we would just magically make tires repair themselves the moment they puncture. This is about cycling, it’s not about who has the most luck to avoid a flat.

      So I really don’t get it. Why would you wish upon him to lose more time? In what universe is that beneficial to the actual competition we are looking for?

      • Porte was pushing it as hard as he could and was being paced back. Clarke is not in contention for the GC and is likely to have rolled in without pacing. Their times can’t be compared. Also, at least one Sky rider had returned to Porte before the wheel change was complete. In calculating potential time, team or neutral support cars are irrelevant.

        I agree that the effect of punctures and mechanicals should be minimised as they are beyond the riders’ control. Time penalties mean the officials are directly affecting the result and therefore should be avoided unless and only if they are correcting unfair time advantages gained by breaking the rules. Their length should not be decided by the commissionaires on any particular race but set down including how they should be calculated in the UCI rules. The same applies to points deductions in the points jersey competition.

  33. I have heard tell that Katusha brought it to the attention of the commisaires, is that conspiracy talk or has it been substantiated? And if the team did report this it was purely on sporting grounds?!

      • Careful. It was mentioned on twitter but this is not the same as mentioning it to the commissaires.

        Instead La Gazzetta Dello Sport set out the process very clearly, it happened right in front of a commissiare who then convened with the jury after the race to review the incident. They wanted proof, a second source to confirm what happened, and the paper shows Graham Watson’s tweeted image of the incident. So it went from there.

  34. Has mountain biking got a different set of rules…? In the Cape epic the winning team generally has a team running as a backup or if I remember correctly the 2014 WINNERS made an arrangement with another team who were out of the gc to help & THUS WON.

    Crazy unsporting ruling

  35. Porte’s handling of the penalty and the aftermath have made me respect him all the more. It seems he’s a bit of an anomaly on SKY.

  36. Sympathetic as I am to Richie I don’t necessarily buy the whole ‘spur of the moment/adrenaline’ explanation. The ‘winning package’ consists of ability to stay in charge of your emotions as well as W/kgs.

  37. Shame nothing about levels of Cortisol in the rules above. Irrespective of anything else it’s a rider health issue that’s as important as the helmet rule for me.

  38. The race director is quoted as saying the penalty on Porte and Clarke had to be imposed to defend the “credibility of the race.” I mean there’s a sick joke right there – if we’re looking to defend the credibility of the race I’d be inclined to start with some of the unbelievable performances some riders are putting in, rather than cracking down on acts of actual sportsmanship.

    I think it’s a terrible decision – nobody wants to see a race decided by anything but racing, this sends entirely the wrong message. I don’t buy the argument that the rules are clear and they had no choice, they’ve elected not to impose equally clear rules on many other occasions. This year’s Paris-Roubaix is the obvious example, but there are many others. In this instance they’ve imposed a penalty that’s effectively eliminated one of the main contenders. I don’t see how that’s in any way helpful.

    • So. The Giro can be defended as credible, and this year’s Paris-Roubaix cannot. But, you think the Giro decision was terrible. Bizarre.

      Look, it’s really simple. Sky had a choice; Porte waits for team/neautral support and loses 4-5 minutes, or take an unlawful wheel and loses 3. It’s a decision Sky preferred, wanted, and got.

      • I don’t know where in my comment you got the idea that I think the Giro is credible. I don’t think it is this year. My comment was meant to imply that if the commissars are really interested in the credibility of the race they would be better served by investigating the riders who are delivering frankly in-credible results.

        I only mention PR as it’s a recent example of the commissairs using a bit of discretion when enforcing the rules.

  39. Many of you might think that this is utter nonsense but I think the difficulties in applying the rules consistently is caused by the very conditions which make this sport what it is. I know that the tarnished name of the UCI does not help much in alleviating the outcry of the cycling community in such cases like Porte’s punishment. However, a more rigid application of the rules would not make this sport any better and it would certainly destroy all the fun. Yes, we will keep arguing about unjust punishments. But we should be aware of the fact that we ourselves may not be consistent about our expectations from the decision-takers. Take Porte’s case as an example, people who think the punishment was unfair should make a decision about how they should build their argument. If they refer to Meersman’s violation and say that he should be punished too, then their argument opens the path towards disappearamce of the colorful aspects of our sport like the sticky bottle. If, on the other hand, they refer to the same event and say that such small infringements -even if they are specified in the rule book, I shoul remind you- should be part of the sport, then this would lead us towards a peloton with no rules.

    I’m writing these lines without denying the fact that I can speak in such a distanced an cold -or pretentious, one might say- manner about this issue because I’m not Porte’s fan or have reasons to support him any more than the other contenders. And I know that many of you have a thing or two to say about that. But this doesn’t refute my main argument. We love this sport and we are all part of this fuss -you can ask it to the dickhead photographer who broke that kid’s arm.

  40. It seems, IMO, that this incident is the result of several small, seemingly innocuous, factors combining to create a perfect storm (polemica perhaps?).

    1)Richie Porte is slightly isolated from his team mates at a crucial point in the stage; he has a puncture and the bunch is flying.

    2) Simon Clarke gives Richie Porte a front wheel in the heat of the moment, both seemingly unaware that this is against the rules.

    3) A commissaire witnesses the incident and is duty bound to report it.

    4) The chief commissaire is a man who is straight-down-the-line with enforcing the rules.

    5) Photographic proof is available.

    6) There is a mandatory time penalty of 2 minutes.

    If you remove any one of those factors the whole situation looks very different.

    It is a shame that the Giro is being overshadowed by this but several events and people have played a role here, and everybody’s actions can substantially be argued for or against.
    As I see it nobody intended any harm, all have simply done what they believe is the right thing from their perspective.

    • A good account but we can even break down 1) to explain the unlucky chain of events:
      1a) Porte hits a pothole and punctures
      1b) He shouts to his team mates but they can’t hear him over the noise
      1c) The bunch is doing 55km/h and divides at a roundabout
      1d) Porte is isolated from his team mates

  41. Anyone think that if it had been an Italian rider in sight of Pink, and all the other elements identical, we would have seen the same punishment?

    Nope. Thought not.

    • We don’t know, but there’s plenty of precedents (cited somewhere here). And weaker, too, that is, the jury had even more discretional space not to expel the Italian riders. Whereas Cav & Renshaw have been *protected* by the jury more than once. So what motives do you have exactly to think as you think?

    • Why not? You’re venturing conjecture rather than evidence. If the same chain of events had happened, with this happening right in front of the commissaires and it being caught on camera it’s likely it would have happened. Remember the commissaire who saw it first was Spanish and the Jury is presided by a German although their nationality doesn’t mean automatic bias.

  42. I think it would be helpful if those that believe the penalty was applied for pro Aru or Anti Sky/Aussie reasons should think about how they’d feel if Herrada gave a wheel to Contador.

    It would also be helpful if the Sky Haters, and you know who you are (the campervan and marginal gains snipes are a dead giveaway), that regularly post here imagined the same Herrada/Contador situation occurring. Would you be so willing to defend EVERYTHING around the penalty? And by everything I mean the severity of 2 minutes against something that probably saved him a few seconds. *Remember Sky didn’t use the ‘magic spanner’ to get him back either. Something that happens frequently and is usually met with only a fine, if anything at all.

    The issue seems to be that discretion is allowed but not used uniformly. This discretion should help in making sure that ‘the punishment fits the crime’. In this case I’m not sure 2min added to a mechanical does in the context of a GC competitor.

    If we were able to see everything that happened we would no doubt see numerous infractions throughout the rest of the Giro where a rider ‘cheats’ to gain an advantage. Usually because he has lost contact with the peloton through his own inability rather than a puncture. If we were to see everything we’d also be aware of how many riders don’t face any kind of punishment. I think it’s this that many find hard to swallow.

    • As a (mostly – still can’t like anything backed by Murcoch) neutral, yes: the large-ish comment I wrote on the stage 11 preview would apply no matter who the protagonists were.

      • And would the majority of the people who are complaining that this was ‘great sportsmanship’ be saying that if it was Contador/Herrada? I suspect that their biases would mean that they would be complaining about devious latin types.

    • As a Sky fan, I hope I’d feel the same whoever was involved. I’m annoyed that “my” team have suffered, but whoever was involved this would have been an attempt to mitigate a problem rather than gain an advantage, and thus in my opinion not deserving of such a severe penalty. At the end of the day I want to see the race decided by racing, rather than mechanicals and commissaires rulings.

      I agree that it’s the inconsistent application of penalties that seems perverse.

    • But Porte did gain an advantage from taking Clarke’s wheel: it saved him time and meant he had one more Sky rider to pace him back.
      Also, if the rules had been more strictly applied, Porte could have been docked more time for Matthews being involved in pacing him back.
      This rule exists – and it’s there in black and white – precisely to stop teams colluding; whether that be based on nationality, friendship or whatever.
      I’d rather things were decided on the road too, but this was caused by Porte and Sky’s ignorance of the rules.
      Other rules not being applied – although, crucially, many are open to interpretation; unlike this one – doesn’t make it wrong to apply this one.
      And I’d actually have preferred it to have happened to Contador – would make for a much more interesting race, whereas this has almost certainly led to Contador’s victory.

    • Take it literally and Michael Matthews’s help in pacing Porte back would a 10 minute penalty then?

      Of course it’s meant to stop more sinister collusion such as the buying and selling of races rather than riders agreeing to cooperate in a breakaway which is the essence of road racing. What ever next team time trials every day to prevent this 😉

  43. All this talk about wheel changes and getting outside help reminds me of the incident in the Tour de France in the early 1900s when a rider in the mountains crashed and broke his rim. Since no support vehicles were around back then, this poor fellow had to find a blacksmith in the local town, repair his own rim by hammer and anvil, and continue on to the finish, where he was informed by the commisaire that he was disqualified–why? Because while he was working the anvil hammering out the chink in the rim, a little boy was working the bellows blowing air over the hot coals, therefore, it was deemed that he had “outside” help. So, given the history of pro cycling, and putting into the context the quantum of “punishment” imposed upon Porte, perhaps two minutes was not too outrageous?

    Since I am nearly the 200th commentator on this particular line of comments, perhaps no one will even read this. So, I dare to say, “pedalare, pedalare! Vai, vai Giro!”

      • Eugène Christophe broke his forks on the Col du Tourmalet and had to repair them in a blacksmith’s forge at Sainte Marie de Campan. Rules stipulated that riders were allowed no outside help and when it came to light that a boy was pumping the bellows at the forge, some accounts say Christophe was penalised and lost the race for receiving outside help.

        Only Christophe merely got docked three minutes for this extra help, a blink of an eyelid in the days when the margin of victory in the Tour was huge. Instead Christophe was sponsored by a bike manufacturer and having broken his forks he tried to find a small back path to descend the Tourmalet to hide the mechanical failure from the press pack, in case news of his “unreliable” bike leaked out. This detour, to protect a commercial interest, cost him far more than the three minute penalty.

  44. J Evans

    Firstly Matthews didn’t pace Porte back, he sat in the train as many riders do when they’re trying to get back on whilst another team is too. Secondly, the Sky team car was in position 3 and pulled up just as Porte got going so at a stretch Porte gained 30 secs for not waiting for the team car and maybe 10 secs if he’d taken a teammates. As I said before he would have been quite entitled to have his break pads ‘adjusted’ on the fly and not only retrieved more than the 30 secs but at most, if the jury was consistant, would have received a fine.

    I’m not arguing he shouldn’t have been penalised. It’s the rule. I am saying that I think the punishment is harsh and you and I both know a different jury may have acted differently. Those trying to make out that this was blatent cheating and the penalty fits the advantage are, imho, purposely being provocative or suffer from an inability to dissect information correctly. But of course, that is just my opinion.

    • Matthews was clearly working for Porte – he had no reason to get himself back to the front (otherwise why had he dropped back in the first place?). But this cannot be proved – like so many other acts of collusion that are therefore not punished.
      I don’t think it was blatant cheating – it was a mistake.
      Sky should have had a rider behind Porte and should know the rules. And they – like their fans – have to accept that the punishment for this is 2 minutes (as it was this year in Hainan).
      Porte made a bad decision: had he got a team mate’s wheel, he would – as you say – lost less than the 2 minutes he has been docked. Same if he had waited for the team car.
      The 2 minute penalty is there to deter collusion – it is not based on how much time would have been lost in someone’s opinion.

  45. The problem seems to be with isolation. If enough people break the rules then that’s fine (see Paris-Roubaix, late grupettos etc.) but if one or two people break a rule then they will be punished to the full extent and with no emotion (think Porte/Clarke or injured Ted King missing the time limit in the Tour a year or two back).

  46. When setting up training plans for my team in an old Football Manager PC-game, I had the option of scheduling “Theoretical practice” (whatever that meant) in addition to the usual “Endurance”, “Free kicks”, “Heading”, etc.

    May I suggest Sir Dave replicates this to the Sky schedule? A weekly video conferance lesson in UCI rules, and problem solved before it arises.

    P.S. Must also be implemented in new Pro Cycling Manager versions, of course…

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