Why Did Groenewegen Get A Nine Month Ban?

Dylan Groenewegen has been banned for 9 months after he caused Fabio Jakobsen to crash in the opening stage of the Tour de Pologne. This is a record ban for an in-race incident and we actually don’t know why he’s got such a long ban. You might have a view but that’s not the point.

We do know nine months is long. The UCI has its Disciplinary Commission with about 30 members, most of them appear sports lawyers and there are commissaires on there too. How many were involved the decision here and whether the verdict was unanimous isn’t clear. They’ve ruled before, incidents that come to mind include Gianni Moscon striking Elie Gesbert in the 2018 Tour de France and getting a five week ban, Theo Boss copping a month for dunking Daryl Impey in the 2009 Tour of Turkey. The previous “record” was six months when Wang Xin started a fight with two members of the Swiss team during the Tour of Hainan in 2017 and got a six month ban, which the Chinese federation upped to two years.

In Groenewegen’s case he broke the rule about deviating from the line in a sprint, this much we know. Here’s the rulebook:

2.3.036: Riders shall be strictly forbidden to deviate from the lane they selected when launching into the sprint and, in so doing, endangering others

Note the dual conditionality: deviating and endangering. The standard punishment for this is relegation, a rider is reclassified to last place in the group and if it’s a stage race can get a penalty on the points competition. There’s a grey area here though, it’s right to review incidents on their merits so that a dumb move is treated differently from a dangerous one but subjectivity is awkward for black-and-white rulebooks.

Groenewegen’s penalty is back-dated to the time of the incident. He has been injured, plus there’s the off-season so in theory he’ll miss February, March and April which is like a de facto three month ban, right? Actually no, because if Groenewegen wanted to help his injury rehab with a village cyclo-cross race or a track meet this winter he can’t. It is a de jure nine month ban and this matters. First because it’s a record length ban, no other sprinter has come close. Second, it sets a precedent, if the same scenario is repeated in an early season race for another sprinter in 2021 then their whole season is compromised.

There’s just one big problem here. We don’t know why Groenewegen got the nine month ban. Yes he pulled a very dangerous move on Fabio Jakobsen. But this doesn’t explain the nine month duration. Now you might have your view why he got the ban, that it was an exemplary punishment, that it was prompted by the gravity of Jakobsen’s injuries, the horrible images on television, that because the verdict’s fallen in winter it’s longer so as to cover more in-season racing, or some other version… perhaps even a pet conspiracy theory. But that’s precisely the problem: everyone is left with their “take”, a snap reaction rather than the actual verdict. It’s one of those Rohrschach Test moments where what people see in the decision probably might tell us more about them rather than the verdict. Only here we need to know the reasons behind the decision, instead of what our impulses tell us. Sprints happen all the time and riders must know the rules, how they are interpreted and whether this has changed. We’ve got the verdict but we need the reasoned decision.

One thing to note is that we’re all outsiders here. Those in on the case accept the ban as both Groenewegen and his Jumbo-Visma team are not appealing. What do they know that we do not? Or do they just want to move on and not reheat the matter out of respect for Jakobsen?

The other thing missing is an exploration of the circumstances in Katowice on the day, namely the downhill finish and the barriers in use. However this is harder to rule on. Search the UCI rulebook and you won’t find downhill finishes are prohibited, nor are there rules on barriers. On the barriers there is a new Annex in the rulebook where issues like “specific failings in the final kilometre” when it comes to course safety can be reported and barriers are cited as an example. There are also guidelines – not rules – about barriers in another document which say World Tour races should avoid having the ones with feet that stick out for the final 500 metres, and those with hoardings or banners attached should be weighed down so they don’t blow over in the wind but that’s it. In short there’s nothing to nail on the race organisers in terms of a rule breach. But just as air accident investigators “never waste a crash” there ought to be lessons to be learned from Katowice on the organisational side too when it comes to race safety, just because the barriers didn’t breach any guidelines then doesn’t mean the rules can’t be improved for next year. Only neither the UCI or the Tour of Poland has said anything here.

Dylan Groenewegen has got a nine month ban, a record for an in-race disciplinary matter. Why is it so long? That’s the point, you might have a view but until we get to read the reasoned decision everyone is left offering their cent’s, penny’s, centime’s and centavo‘s view which is noise. The sprinters need to know the signal.

75 thoughts on “Why Did Groenewegen Get A Nine Month Ban?”

  1. The ban is bullshit.

    Look at Alaphilippe’s even more deliberate move in LBL. He didn’t even get any real punishment. He doesn’t care if he is no. 2 or 5.

    They have judged by the severity of the outcome, not by the move itself. That is total bullshit.

    • We can only guess why the ban was this long, severity of the outcome is a strong contender but that’s my point: lots of people are shouting online because of what they think happened at the hearing… but nobody actually knows.

    • Watts, agree with you 100%. I consider JA’s move much worse. And now what of Jungel’s crash of Higuita in the TdF? Higuita was injured and had to leave the race. If UCI is adjudicating based on injuries, let them at least be consistent.

      • Disagree here. Ala’s line change was much worse, yes, but there was room for the riders around him to avoid it. DG’s move intentionally put an opponent into the barriers (at worst) or used the barriers to block or intimidate his opponent (at best). The consequences were always likely to be worst from DGs move therefor it was inherently more dangerous.

        • When JA swerved, MH lost his chances to win. He’d rather brake (like he did), or tried to go all the way around L’enfant Terrible risking a crash, never knowing if he would keep on swerving.

          Jakobsen, on the other hand, forced his way through. He always had the chance to brake and be safe,and he deliberately chose to take the risks.

          Please don’t take this like I’m defending who swerves, because I’m not, my point is that who gets blocked always has the chance to brake and avoid crashing.

    • There is the note about endangering others.
      Hence it could be argued that pushing someone towards the barriers is much more dangerous.

      Of a bigger note the UCI should take this as a reason to spend some time on padding out rules on barriers and getting a much more in depth section on how to build them and what you need to do to check the construction and sign off on there safety.

    • This gives me a chance to discuss 2020 Women’s Driedaagse Brugge – De Panne where the winner got relegated for dangerous deviation. Not too dissimilar to Mr Alaphillippe, but one of the major crimes committed is that D’Hoore deviated twice, she starts her sprint moving over to her right, which invites riders up her left, which she then deviates across to in order to close the door. She’s effectively saying ‘come around me and I’ll put you in the dirt’.
      The race commissars got it right in my opinion (there are many who don’t agree). But if the UCI wants to get on top of this they need to act on what they believe are legitimate racing tactics.
      I feel like Gronewagen was hung out to dry on this. His actions caused a horrendous crash and Jacobsen suffers terribly, but what he did is not so different to many other sprints. Mitigating factors in this do exist (downhill sprint and infrastructure) and yet it’s only the end result that is taken into account.
      I agree with Inrng that communication on the award of the punishment would be helpful, but also that the UCI gets its act together on how sprints should be conducted. I feel like an informational video of unacceptable and acceptable techniques should be made to help commissars and riders alike.
      If you want to sort out sprints the guidance needs to be clear, and punishments for infractions clinically handed out and proportionally.

      • It’s much like a traffic accident tho. The same dangerous driving action (using a phone) might cause an accident in which no one is hurt or several people are killed. The driver causing death will be jailed, the driver who commits the same offence but in which no one is hurt might be fined, or given points or banned from driving depending on the outcome.

        • I guess what I’m saying is that commissars and the UCI are not fining the poor behaviour in sprints and the result is the Jakobsen crash. Relegate D’Hoore, relegate Alaphillippe and there’s no point in squeezing out your rival.

    • Really disagree with this assessment. Being forced into a barrier going 40kmh quicker doesn’t compare to allaphlipes erratic LBL sprint. The downsides were probable road rash versus death. Come on, be serious

      • I don’t think you can presume the outcome of any crash or decide which outcome is less severe. Is having your face caved in better or worse than breaking your spine and being left paralysed?

        • The speed, has far less influence on the impact on the barrier than what most people assume. 60 or 80km/h matters not too much if 90%+ of that energy is directed parallel to the barriers.

          Consider the basic physics, the direction of movement is where most of the kinetic energy/force goes to. This direction is parallel to the barriers. You can do the math (I did but am refraining from doing the calculations again in a different language). So mostly the potential energy + ~5-10%(3°-8° impact angle) of the forward kinetic energy is involved in barrier impact. The remaining 90% is only transferred there on the moment that the barriers fold and suddenly fabio his body is halted to a far quicker stop than other victims (same speed, similar mass = dylan groenewegen).
          Compare those barriers with Sagan/Cavendish or this years Tour de luxembourg, ignore the outcome and just focus on how much barriers move on those impacts. Sag/Cav Tour = not even a centimeter, Luxembourg their barriers, on a far harder frontal crash, are not flying around either.

          Making it arguably a more favourable outcome for Fabio Jakobsen if a stone wall had been there or no boarding at all. Barriers should serve safety, and the UCI should be working that angle in my opinion.

          So please people if you come up with traffic incidents, make it 3 party cases.
          along the lines: “I give my friend a friendly bump in the bus, he stumbles, hits the window, which breaks unexepectedly, and he crashes with his face on the road”. = 3 parties: “agressor, victim, failing safety system”

          All in all the unclarity of the UCI in their statement and following up inconcistency is far more shocking to me than them hanging Groenewegen out to dry and the unprecedented 9 month ban.

  2. I always feel slightly uneasy that penalties are linked to the consequences of an action rather than the action itself. A drunken driver who injures just himself will not get the same penalty as one involving innocent casualties. Judgements, whether they should or not, take into account public opinion. Sprinters regularly deviate, try to discourage or intimidate rivals, close gaps…to a greater or lesser degree. Groenewegen has an effective ban of around three months. That seems reasonable and may influence the behaviour of other sprinters, at least until the heat of battle and desperation for the win make them forget.

    • Why would you feel uneasy that the consequences of an offence should be of utmost relevance?
      The principle of ‘putting the victim first’ has been in place for some time in European and English law.
      It’s absolutely correct, in my view, that the UCI looked at the effect on Jakobsen.
      What would critics of this approach suggest if Jakobsen had died?

      • I agree with that. But would add that the baseline penalty needs to be higher to deter the “crime” before there is another catastrophic injury. Akerman’s “foul” in Scheldeprijs and JA in LBL both should warrant the baseline suspension.

    • I share DJW’s point of view, you should be punished over your actions, and their expected outcome (the part which you had control over) more than their actual consequences (which you usually don’t). But that’s best left to Beccaria and he didn’t ride a bike, so I’ll leave it there.

      On a personal note, I’m not overly shocked by the length of the ban. 9 months seems huge but in terms of races missed, it’s really just March/April ’21. I think that for publicity purposes, the panel wanted to make sure that Groenewegen didn’t come back to racing before Jakobsen was on a bike again. If it had been, say, 6 months, it would in effect be an invisible sanction.

      And I agree that motivating those decisions would go a long way towards understanding, at least making sure that the panel took under consideration everything that they needed to – if they don’t say that, it sucks in speculation (“ah, but they didn’t factor this in, and so the penalty should have been more/less”).

      Since the fall, Groenewegen and his team have communicated wisely, and he seems genuinely affected by what he did. I think that will go a long way towards forgiveness and hopefully the both of them will be back to their best in a few months.

      PS: those saying that Alaphilippe’s deviation in LBL was “much worse” probably should review the footage, the distance with the barriers, etc…

    • This is nonsense and it’s not how the law works. The consequences of an action always influence the punishment involved. Imagine a man firing a bow and arrow at a target in the woods. In scenario 1 he fires six arrows, misses the target three times, and his rouge arrows hit other trees. In scenario 2 he fires six arrows, misses the target three times and kills a hiker who happened to be walking by. He wouldn’t be prosecuted in the first instance, although it was a stupid act, but he’s certainly be put away for the second. If you go through a red light you get a ticket, if you go through a red light and kill people in another car, you go to jail. How else could things work?

      • Joanne, and how would the verdict be if that wasnt an intentional hiker but a buddy running around in “certified” protective equipment. Leading to a false sense of safety for that buddy due to failing “certified” protective equipment?

  3. Really, the UCI are a disgrace. The inconsistency of this decision aside, they’re masters of opaque processes, ambiguous rules and whatever else allows them to remain incompetent, to avoid scrutiny and accountability and continue their freedom to do as they please.
    In my eyes their fluffy barrier guidelines put the blame for the severity of Jakobsen‘s injuries squarely on them and without their acknowledgement of that, this decision will always look like a deflection.

  4. Lots of people seem to be unhappy that the severity of the punishment is largely linked to the consequences of the action, rather than the intent. And this isn’t the first time, would Sagan have been kicked out of the 2017 Tour if Cav hadn’t been badly injured in the resulting crash?

    But the reality, like it or not, is that in criminal (as opposed to sporting) law, this is how it works, the crime and punishment are strongly linked to the consequences of your actions, not just the action themselves. For example, in English law there is a specific offence of “Unlawful and Dangerous Act Manslaughter”, you are guilty of this if you intentionally commit an unlawful and dangerous act (for example punching someone), and in doing so cause someone to die (for example they happen to fall in such a way that they hit their head and then die). If the person had not died, you would only face the criminal penalty (imprisonment etc.) for the original offence (i.e. the unlawful and dangerous act), however because they have died you will instead face a significantly more severe penalty.

    It seems that (to an large extent) cycling’s legal system seems to follow a similar system – deviations which do not cause injury are almost never punished with anything more severe than a relegation, however when an injury is caused the penalty is almost always more severe.

    This does still raise two questions: Firstly, is whether this is actually a desirable situation for cycling rules? There is a balance (as in all punishment, criminal or otherwise) between the desire for fairness and consistency, e.g. any and all deviations by a certain amount must be punished by a uniform method; and a desire for punishment or retribution, the “they must pay for their crimes” feeling. I can see that in criminal law, it is right to balance these two competing views, which is why we see that sentences for manslaughter are longer than for other crimes, but shorter than sentences for murder. However is this necessarily the right approach for cycling, or sport in general? I am less sure.

    Secondly, the comparison with criminal law is also instructive because for any category of offence there are sentencing guidelines; a clear set of rules to be followed, taking into account the severity of the crime, previous convictions, culpability, mitigating circumstances etc. This allows us to know that in any given case, the sentence given is broadly “correct”, and if it is not then we must change the guidelines. The point our host is making (which I strongly agree with) is that these are completely lacking in this instance (and many others). Other than saying “this is a long ban” and comparing it to other cases, many of which are not the same, we don’t have anything which explains the outcome, either a specific judgement from this case or a more general set of rules which apply to all. These rules do exist in other sports, for example in English Rugby, if you are found to have bitten another player, it will be a ban of between 12 and 208 weeks depending on the severity:


    Maybe this is what the UCI needs, a statement of the sanctions which a rider can expect to receive if they are found to have committed an infraction of a given level. Alternatively, clear and reasoned decisions are required in every case, although it seems that these would have to fall back on some precedent or set of rules, otherwise they would be entirely arbitrary. In addition, I think the UCI need to be clearer about the balance of punishing the original action, versus punishing the outcome. In reality, it is largely the latter that is punished, but sometimes people seem to clamour for the former. Either way, I feel that it would be better were this to be significantly clearer.

    • Clive, you seem to have a keen understanding of the law.
      Perhaps you could take a minute and send a quick note to Trump
      explaining to him why he should just walk away quietly.

      We would appreciate it over here!

    • Sidebar:
      Cycling and Rugby are the two sports I watch almost exclusively and I think they share a similar attitude to the rules. Key decisions are left to the interpretation of the officials which can have significant outcomes on the result. There is also disregard for specific rules (e.g. push straight in scrum, sticky bottles, etc) embedded in the gamesmanship. I have a hunch that it is this aspect coupled with the sheer physical demands that make them interesting and absorbing to me. Am I missing out on any other similar sports?

    • I think you make lots of good points and clearly have a decent understanding of the law.
      The points I would add are that whats good about rugby’s decisions is that they are published with details of the process and that cases are overseen by an actual judge (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Blackett). This makes them more like real legal cases.
      I suspect this is required mainly to prevent further legal challenges against the RFU etc from players or clubs who believe they have wrongly suffered. I dont expect TJV to challenge this as because of the of his injuries and the off season its not as effectively long, and that it would probably gain them bad PR. However if the ban was repeated for another rider at say the first race of the season, you could definitely see them mounting a legal challenge.
      My final point, whilst I agree the punishment must consider the consequences, it should also consider the intent. This would be my understanding in English law for example. You may be convicted of an offence but then your sentence may be reduced due to intent (and previous conduct etc). Suppose it all bring us back our bloggers point of needing to see the reasoned decision.

      • Except with rugby, despite the guidelines, there are significant variations in the penalties handed out,usually based on some sort of strange discounting system that takes most account of the type of biscuits you bring to the hearing.

  5. Clearly I have no idea but to me it seems to be a reaction to the severity of the injuries, perhaps understandable, but unfair.

    A ban is appropriate, but 9 months?

    Sport is dangerous, sprints are at the sharp end.

    I wish Fabio Jakobsen well and a swift recovery but remain convinced that Groenewegen had no malicious intent and Jakobsen’s injuries were largely caused by terrible infrastructure.

    But, I don’t really know.


  6. I feel so bad for Jacobsen obviously, but also Groenewegen. He has stated how guilty he feels and how this has affected him. I think it’s brutal to also slap him with a humiliating 9-month ban. Instead the commission should recognise that his punishment is already in full swing and instead they have a responsibility to help him return to racing. Mentally, it will be very difficult for him to hit a sprint with confidence moving forward, and it’s a shame because he is one of the brightest talents in the bunch.

    Punishments have a purpose, but in this case the punishment itself is not necessary. And then by giving by far the biggest punishment in history is burying an undeserving man’s career.

    Plus, the punishment needs to be based on fact and rules that are publicly available well ahead of time – and if Inrng can’t find the support for it, they don’t exist in the public domain. Cycling tends to be a farce sometimes.

    • Sorry, one more thing – the punishment can’t be based on the damage done because as we saw with Sagan at the TdF, he was booted based on the damage, not the actual act.

      JA performed a VICIOUS chop this year, you could argue with full intent too, but he is lucky no one hit the deck. Honestly, his chop looked way worse than Groenewegen’s if you stop the tape before Jacobsen’s crash. Based on that, does JA deserve 2 years? C’mon, this is just showing how silly this process is.

      • Especially as the extent of the damage done in this case was unquestionably in some part the fault of the organizer and / or UCI!

        If the barriers were fit for purpose and Jakobsen had instead broke, say, an arm, some ribs and been knocked unconscious, would it have been 3 months instead?

        • My last words on this, promise.
          But the starting point of the entire process is not other sprint incidents, barriers, not Groenewgen’s feelings and remorse (as much as I do feel for the lad) etc it’s Jakobsen.
          And then his family and teammates.
          And I’m not sure that Inr Rng’’s piece fully recognises that either?

          • If Jakobsen is the starting process is here then logically you would assess the barriers which did not held up as was fair to expect. Groenewegen his action is relatively easy to quantify as initiator of a crash, but the extend of the damage (main concern for Jakobsen) is from physics point of view clearly pointing to the barriers which have been sloppy.

            And how are Fabio and his family helped by a piece of recognition from inrng), how are they helped by a 9 month ban? Teammates come after other cyclists injured due to flying barriers I would say, bar senechal as direct witness with probably a trauma.
            What benefit does the cycling community have from all these steps if the UCI takes no single steps towards improved safety.

  7. The whole post is about not judging before knowing all facts, but yet the comment section is full of judgments and experts!

    As always, good points and great read Inner Ring

        • I thought the point of the comment that everybody and his ten-year-old cousin is judging the UCI and its Disciplinary Commission despite not knowing the facts of how and why and instead of trying to understand. And I would tend to agree with that point.

          It also remains to be seen – and we should therefore perhaps wait before judging – whether the judgement will indeed look like a deviation from how similar moves are judged or whether we should accept it as they way the commissaires will see them from now on. If the latter, I’m all for it: “closing the door” is nothing but an euphemism for knowingly pushing aside any concern for your co-competitors health and safety. If the former, I’ll be disappointed that nothing ever changes.

          • Eskerrik, I definitely concur with your last point.
            And, with the news outlined below that DQS and Jakobsen himself may bring separate legal actions against Groenewegen, I think it helps tell us how seriously they view the matter and why the UCI have issued the ban. Some of the injuries described in that article are really sobering to consider.
            What strikes me about comments on this Inr Rng post is a confirmation of a poor health and safety culture in professional road cycling and a ready desire to sweep accidents under the carpet of ‘race incidents’. I’ve said this many times in the past and this is another example.
            I hope this case is an outlier and a threshold, that course design is improved and that riders acting dangerously can expect more severe sanctions.
            And that if a rider causes severe injuries to another rider, they should expect to be banned.
            A duty of care is owed by all to all, and that duty starts in the peloton to its fellow riders.

          • There is far more to ‘closing the door’ than simply and solely putting aside any concerns for the health and safety of others. One of the things that the current rule tries to do is allow a closing of the door which does not endanger the other rider. Some think this is an important distinction which is in danger of being lost in the current climate.

    • Yeah, but this is the UCI, we’re never going to know the facts. A discussion of inconsistencies and how things could be improved is the best we can hope for.

      • Exactly digahole, we don’t have the facts or the rules because they haven’t been published. Even Inrng said it seemed too harsh.

        Penalties need to be based on a clear set of rules/guidelines set out prior to the event.

    • As always. This permanent judging, with everybody thinking they are the ultimate arbiter of everything is not only tiring, but also really damaging to society. But that is what comes of social media and all these opinion pieces (which this article is, too), where people donˋt read/try to understand, but to hand out judgement. And in the comments you find people not communicating, but only trading their judgments. When they think the same, they reinforce each other, when they disagree, they tell each other why they got it right and not the other. And this way we all walk around our lives being every day more convinced, that we know it all and are the only ones, who got it right. And logic dictates, that, if we got it right, everybody disagreeing with us got it wrong. And – and this is important – we also are sure, that all others, who are actually tasked with governing our lives, got it wrong. And thus the erosion of trust, of understanding, of accepting the decision, the knowledge of others begins.

      All this damages society, makes it really unliveable. This is why comment sections like this one are actively damaging our lives and are a real and dangerous problem.

      Instead it would be so much better trying to understand what and why it happened. Who cares other than xy what their „opinion“ is? In trying to understand what this sentence means and wants to do I think two considerations were important:
      1.The feelings of the other riders, who have to feel, that somehow justice is done
      2. That Groenewegen actually is banned for some time, in which he would race otherwise

      I think the reasoning for the sentence is made clear in the writing of the sentence. It says „..is banned till May…which amounts to 9 months…

      The „which amounts“ is key, I think. I donˋt think they actually wanted to ban him 9 months, but wanted him to be banned, when he is actually able to race (because of point 1). Because after the incident he was injured, physically and psychologically. So banning him only in 2020, where he could not race and then no races were on, would have meant causing a storm in the peloton, because it would have been no real sentence. This means, that he has to be banned in the season 2021. Yet you canˋt very well give a sentence saying „he is banned 3 months from the point he is able to race again and races are on, in which he actually would race“. That is not how law works. So they suspended him till may and took the incident as starting point – because you have to have one. Which then means 9 months.

      I think maybe this was the process behind it. Groenewegen and his team have accepted the sentence, which is important and should give a bit of rest to the whole talk about it.

      • Anon – I think your comment is valid, but it is also doing what you say we should not be doing. However, yes, groenewegen has accepted the punishment – possibly out of an immense feeling of guilt plus what basis is there for appeal if the ground rules are not published… would be an awful lot of wasted legal fees to fight something he feels awful about.

        I pray that Jacobsen and Groenewegen can come out of this strong and fight for more sprints – really at the end of the day this boils down to cycling is a dangerous sport.

      • “This permanent judging, with everybody thinking they are the ultimate arbiter of everything is not only tiring, but also really damaging to society.”
        “All this damages society, makes it really unliveable. This is why comment sections like this one are actively damaging our lives and are a real and dangerous problem.”

        These comments are both ludicrous and completely at odds with both what is happening in this comment section. They are also the opposite of what makes for a healthy society. What I read here is a thoughtful discussion from knowledgable people about the nuances of rules/laws/punishment in both sport and society. To the extent that people involved in professional cycling frequent this site, this is a very good thing.

        More broadly, we should be grateful that most of us live in societies where we can openly express our opinions, and discuss/debate each other. It’s through this process that we often learn, and change our opinions, and reach consensus. There are plenty of unhealthy, totalitarian societies where discussion and debate are banned and prosecuted.

        Yes, there are places on the internet that tend towards being toxic echo chambers where mood affiliation and mob mentality dominate. This isn’t one of those places, and the attempt by an anonymous commenter to simultaneously shut down the discussion (by telling people they’re literally damaging society by engaging in the discussion!) while also telling everyone how to properly understand the opaque and terse UCI statement seems like something out of Orwell.

        • Agreed with Another Kevin. This is hardly a flame war. What’s suggested is that for this “judging” and being “ultimate arbiters” the counterpoint (and implied acceptable behaviour) is eating up whatever is being served – thereby accepting we can never fully understand or accept rulings or situations, and therefore leave the “adults” to make decisions.

          Which is, of course, a total fallacy. I think most of us have formed an opinion – and most of us understand that is merely an unqualified opinion, that hinges on many biases, cognitive gaps and other limitations. How do you address that? Precisely by encouraging formative discussion – and a great start to that would be a reasoned decision by the actual arbiters to assess how those decisions are being made and to create precedent to compare other incidents.

          The latter paragraph from Anoymous’ post is a case in point: after chastising us for having an opinion the post contains an opinion of its own, stating the possible rationale for the length of the ban chosen. See? There’s nothing wrong with that, and in fact improves the dialogue and -hopefully- decision making as well.

    • I did think of a pre-emptive comment to say “let’s not put him on trial again and reach our own verdicts” but it’s interesting to see people doing this.

      Sometimes the UCI does put decisions online at a later date but there’s seemingly no directory or list for them, you have to have the right search terms to reach them, I’ve stumbled on some reasoned decisions for doping bans this way.

    • Yes. It seems like everyone wants to give their opinion, which is in direct conflict with the point of the post.

      Why does the UCI post the judgment without an explanation at the same time?

  8. To me 9 months seems extreme, I can’t think of anything similar in any other sport where a ‘foul’ has caused severe injury to an opponent. The only similar length ban I can think of is Eric Cantona’s, but he attacked a spectator. I don’t think Groenewegan had any intent, he just did what sprinters sometimes do in that situation. Due to an unhappy series of events it led to his opponent getting extremely serious injuries. As an example a footballer may recklessly foul an opponent with intent to hurt them and break that players leg resulting in them being out for a year or so, yet only receive a 3 or perhaps 5 match ban. Groenewegan seems to be extremely upset about what has happened and neither he nor his team have sought to try and minimise what happened. I’m pretty sure in real life law you get a reduced sentence for pleading guilty. I think a ban until the end of 2020 would’ve been appropriate. Then move on and let him get on with his career and wish Jakobsen all the best with his recovery.

    • La Liga (Spain) has similar length suspensions, but you have to be older than dirt (like me) to remember them.

      Goikoetxea got 18 games for chopping down Maradona’s legs after being repeatedly taunted and dribbled around during a game. I think that was later reduced, but that’s about 6-8 months since the calendar runs into many breaks. Stoickhov lost his mind in 1991 and stomped on the ref – 6 months. The longest I have read about is Cortizo from Zaragoza in 1964, got 24 games (8 effective months) after breaking Collar’s tibia and fibula.

  9. Does the fact that the 9 months includes a number of months in which there will be no races to miss mean they added on extra months. Maybe 4 in which there will be no real races Nov to Feb. In which case you can really think of it as 5 months.
    I mean if you received a 4 month ban on the last race of the year it wouldn’t make much sense. I think in Rugby league here they ban not for time but matches for this reason.
    I don’t have any problem with the ban but i do think anyone involved in signing off the barriers which were the wrong type (not even flat) needs some remediation. Of course by the time anybody from the UCI see’s it it may be to late to make a change so this probably needs to be done as much as possible before the race is even set up.
    I have no problem with “consistency”: because that,s a subjective term and everybody see’s it through there own eyes and 100% consistency is not possible or required to form a disincentive.
    Lastly i don’t quite see the comparison to JA in LBL. In one case somebody is literally pushed into a barrier which also made the injury worse. In the other a second rider was pushed into an open space in which they were able to pull away and not fall. Yes they lost an opportunity to win and it was very dangerous but that can’t compare to being pushed into a barrier. JA should have been removed from the race results altogether. Plus been reported to a disciplinary panel to determine what if any further penalties they may receive. Which should always happen if you are relegated or removed for a dangerous offence.

  10. Watch the footage back, it’s interesting that Groenewagen doesn’t really deviate his line. The dangerous part is really that when they come together he gives Jakobsen a shove so he can get his balance (the better thing to have done might have been just to have balanced himself and let Jakobsen push him back across the road, but should’ve/could’ve/might’ve is irrelevant now). Ultimately this action brings done much of the sprint. But I guess my point would should ‘closing the door’ on opponents be tolerated? Drink driving at slow speeds is no more tolerated than at high speeds.

    • It might help if fans and commentators did not both equate ‘closing the door’ and ‘putting into the barriers’ and treat those phrases and actions as synonyms. One may follow from the other, be a consequence of the other, but it is neither a necessity nor an inevitability. And one definitely endangers a fellow rider where the other may not do so. The rule attempts to recognise and allow for this important difference.

      • Since you chose to be “Anonymous”, I find it fair to say “Nonsense! You failed to comprehend a word of what you raid or – in my view, much much worse – you chose to interpret exactly as it suited you and allowed you to make this pompous comment.
        You can begin by looking up the word “euphemism”.
        And, no, I haven’t seen or heard a fan or a commentator make such an equation. Therefore I really struggle to understand where you are coming from (into this discussion).

      • I cannot say that I think Groenewagen intentionally put him in the barriers. I think that part is assumed because that’s what happened and that Groenewagen’s actions inextricably lead to that result. But instinctive behaviour in tense situations is not always so clear cut. But part of this is that Groenewagen was closing the gap to right of him which I think he assumed would shut that line of approach for his fellow competitors.

  11. In sports, 9 months is a long ban for anything. As some have done, taking in to consideration a large portion over the offseason can make if “feel” more reasonable. However, as our host points out, it sets a precedent where if this were to occur in the early season, now we potentially have a solid 9 month ban over the heart of the season. That’s where we need to decide if we want to go.

  12. I’m struggling with this one. DG could have been any sprinter on any given day in any given recent year. But what happened to FJ can’t be allowed to happen again. Which makes me think that perhaps culpability lies with a number of people/organisations. But I prefer to focus on hoping that both FJ and DG can come back from this and have good careers

  13. I was just re-watching the footage and I can’t say I’ve seen a worse crash. It is definitely incredibly hard to watch.

    However, and maybe I’m just beating an old dog to death with this, but I can’t say that what DG did is anything worse than dozens (or hundreds/thousands) of other sprint situations. There are a few aspects to this crash in my opinion:

    1. The point of contact – is DG shoving FJ, or is FJ bumping and DG leaning on him to maintain balance? I thought it was the latter, and if that’s the case then DG isn’t committing any fault.
    2. The initial sprinting line – DG was sprinting slightly on a diagonal towards the post/barrier – does this qualify as deviating from his line? He appears to be setting a direct course that was predictable and perhaps the shortest course to get to the finish line, which isn’t a deviation.
    3. FJ was driving towards a rapidly closing door… please don’t kill me for saying this, but doesn’t that lead to the next question – shouldn’t he have tapped the brakes and therefore culpability should be shared – DG, FJ and the fence designer…. or is this just a sprinting incident?

    I think my opinion isn’t popular, but I’d conclude that this incident may not even deserve punishment.

  14. Out of interest, if a similar situation occurred and a rider crashed and died is there the possibility that the accused offender would have to defend a charge of manslaughter? Are there conditions of a sporting event that provide some protection against that or are they subject to the law just as anybody else.
    For example if I were on a Sunday group ride and purposely shoved a fellow rider into a post and they died, I‘d be up for manslaughter. Is there a difference?

      • I suspect the legal action is being driven by their insurer’s need to recoup the (considerable) cost of Jakobsen’s treatment, rather than DQS wanting to create a double-edged litigious precedent in the WT. Depending on how the Polish courts treat this, we might easily see the UCI and the race organisers facing far more effective scrutiny than they have to-date.

        Mr Inrng – what are your thoughts on the consequences of WT teams starting to sue other teams for race incidents (has this ever happened previously)?

        • There have been cases before and as you suggest, for insurance and procedural reasons rather than “ambulance chasing” cases to sue for maximum damages. It depends on jurisdictions, countries etc but in some cases there has to be some kind of legal event to initiate proceedings. Vincenzo Nibali’s case following his Alpe d’Huez crash comes to mind, this saw him open a case “against X” which is a procedure in France where you open a case without initial accusation and so the legal case can start.

          Not sure what the deal with the Deceuninck-QS case in Poland, there’s been lots of outrage online about but not sure if the actual details of the case have been published and translated?

  15. Not a comment on this piece. Just a note to say how much I enjoy and appreciate your insightful and thoughtful writing. Amazing really how brilliant every piece is. Thank you.

  16. Skewing the topic a little bit here, but it’s precisely the mentality that a person’s intent should carry much more weight than the consequences of their actions that allows motorists to kill or maim cyclists with relative impunity.
    As such, I’m not overly sympathetic to Groenewegen in this instance.

  17. Probably publishing details of the verdict would encourage challenges and unwanted scrutiny of their processes, particularly if the verdict was nowhere near unanimous. As it stands, dozens of lawyers sounds too intimidating to want to cross.

  18. Since the crash sprinters seem to be staying more in their lanes during the sprints. Not all, but the sprints I’ve watched seem to be straighter.

    • Staying more in their lanes. Jfc. Sprinters don’t and never have. It’s very difficult to see how they can in a sport that relies so much on drafting and is happy to send 150+ riders into a finish which is by no means always straight and flat and can be only 8M wide. Where did this crazy idea that a mass sprint in road cycling is the same thing as a 100M athletics race come from?

      • I think you are too eager to read “staying in their lanes” literally. Bb, “Bb” is short for “Big boy”. (In this case one who deserves to be called that for daring to use profanity.)
        In my opinion you are – in this comment – just another anonymous who somehow believes he is the only one who understands what road cycling really is and everyone else is a newbie or a naïve fan who has never ever raced himself and therefore holds utterly silly notions about what the sport is about in reality.

    • I think this case is much more similar to the Chara running Pacioretty into the glass stanchion incident, which underwent a criminal investigation. Whereas fights are simply a part of the game.
      Interestingly though, Chara was never punished by the NHL.

      However, all protruding glass structures on ice-level have since been much more carefully designed and implemented, the same should be said for these roadside barriers.

  19. Potentially UCI is being smart by keeping the machinations of its ruling secret. I wonder if there are some implications being communicated directly to teams with regard to the decision (as IR astutely points out, TJV have accepted the decision with no dispute), whilst a separate discussion is hopefully being had with race organisers around safety – I would be very surprised to see the same finish appear unchanged in next years Tour de Pologne, and if it is I believe riders will protest.
    With regard to rulings in different sports (thanks Clive for your informative post) is there a precedent in motor racing? If someone moves dangerously in F1 to block an overtaking move, they are normally penalised (time penalties or complete disqualification). But if you deliberately put someone into a wall at 200mph then you would be looking at a significant ban.

  20. It’s just theoretically a 9 months ban. Groenewegen was injured himself due to his scandalous behaviour in Poland. And his own team has suspended him. So, in reality, he can’t compete from te start of the season 2021 to begin of may. Only 3 months. So, criticising the “nine months ban” is extremely hypocrit. If the coronacrisis continues after new year, what probably will happen, chances are good that cycling isnt gonna happen. So, no “punishment” at all, for Groenewegen. And what about the financial damage ? Millions of euro. Medical, revalidation, loss of (normal) income over years. Missed career….

  21. Are the UCI likely to publish a reasoned decision or are they going to leave everyone guessing? Agree that it is wise to wait for this rather than adding to the white noise but it seems like another own goal from the UCI among a growing list of them not to publish this at the same time as the announcement of the ban itself.

    • We don’t know. Often when an anti-doping verdict is reached they say they’ll publish the verdict but this time there was no phrase in the announcement like this. In many disciplinary cases a reasoned decision is not too important, it’s an open and shut case with a standard tariff but as argued above given the ban length it’d really help to know.

  22. In British horse racing, the vast majority of riding incidents (and there are a lot, given that they nearly always involve an animal as well as a human) are examined by the stewards‘ panel at the racecourse, usually immediately after the race. In rare cases they may be referred onwards to headquarters for further consideration.

    There is a scale of standard tariffs, but there is also some discretion allowed for perceived intent . The jockey and usually the trainer are present at the inquiry to put their case. Conditional jockeys are allowed a senior representative as well.

    The results with a full explanation ( even if no action was deemed necessary) are published on the BHA website, and on the racecourse noticeboards, sometimes immediately after the race, certainly on the same day as the meeting.

    Obviously this isn’t a template for cycling, but it may be an interesting example of how a sport with a lot of obstructive events, which may or may not be intentional- has resolved a process which can effect reasonable sums of money changing hands, as well as the securing of as safe an environment for both horses and jockeys as possible. Because the process happens all the time – it’s rare for a meeting not to have at least one stewards’ enquiry – it has become accepted at all levels of the sport – even by disgruntled ‘punters’! Any regular racegoer can tell whether there will be an enquiry into riding.

    On this topic, my partner and I are often surprised by the lack of integration of the disciplinary and regulatory processes in cycling. It is quite customary for the stewards to consult before or during a meeting with senior jockeys and trainers about the going, or about hazards such as low light or false ground. It doesn’t have to be confrontational, as it often seems to be in cycling.

    • I can’t say that you can really tell the full intent there. The barriers look chaotically arranged and possibly Bos was trying to make some room because he was getting squeezed – otherwise I can’t see why he’d put a hand on Impey. I mean it’s not as if he was trying to stop him sprinting, or physically hurt him (land a punch etc.) So I don’t understand that there was an intent to harm. Impey’s instinct to fight against Bos’s push seems to put him and Bos in the barriers. Fortunately no one else was hurt. Odd.

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