Cycling’s international governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale, has opened disciplinary proceedings against Team RadioShack after the US squad breached regulations governing team clothing during the last stage of the Tour de France on Sunday.

Lance Armstrong, Chris Horner, Levi Leipheimer and the RadioShack team appeared at the start line for Sunday’s final stage of the 2010 Tour wearing black kit with the number 28 emblazoned on the back to denote the number of people in millions currently suffering with cancer around the world.

The clothing change was in keeping with Armstrong’s aim of raising awareness of cancer sufferers’ plight as part of his LiveStrong cancer initiative. However, a change of kit within a competition without prior approval is strictly against UCI regulations.

The team were allowed to continue through the neutral zone wearing the black kit, but were then forced to change into the usual red-and-grey RadioShack strip for the remainder of the stage. This caused a considerable delay to the stage as the race waited for the change in clothing.

When the squad appeared on the podium after the stage finish on the Champs Elysees in Paris to receive the team prize, they had returned to wearing the black strip once more – against regulations.

The actions of the UCI commissaires attracted the ire of RadioShack team manager Johan Bruyneel, who openly condemned the response to the change in team clothing.

“Ok people! Now it’s official! To be a race commisar [sic], you don’t need brains but only know the rules! Their motto: ‘c’est le reglement!'” Bruyneel said via his internet Twitter account.

Lance Armstrong, Tour de France 2010, stage 20

Armstrong meets fans on Sunday wearing the ‘illegal’ black kit

The UCI statement read:

The International Cycling Union (UCI) wishes to announce that disciplinary proceedings will be opened against Team RadioShack, for breaching the regulations governing riders’ clothing.

The UCI regrets that an initiative for a cause as worthy as the fight against cancer was not coordinated beforehand with the Commissaires and organisers of the event. This could have been done whilst remaining within the rules.

Team RadioShack’s incorrect behaviour led to a 20-minute delay to the start of the final stage, which could have disrupted the televised coverage of the race, placing the Commissaires under the obligation to impose a fine on each rider and the team managers.

Team RadioShack subsequently breached the regulations by wearing an incorrect uniform on the podium for the protocol ceremony having been instructed not to.

The UCI also deplores the declarations made by Mr Johan Bruyneel who gravely offended all the Commissaires working in cycling. His remarks are utterly unacceptable, and Mr Bruyneel will be called upon to answer for his comments before the UCI Disciplinary Commission.

As the action of Team RadioShack was inspired by the desire to raise public awareness of the breadth of the global fight against cancer, the UCI has decided that any fines levied as a result of this matter would be donated to the Ligue suisse contre le cancer.