Eduardo Sepulveda of Bretagne-Séché Environnement is disqualified from the Tour de France for taking a lift in a Ag2r-La Mondiale car

Tour de France juries are known to be harsh every now and again, but Bretagne-Séché Environnement rider Eduardo Sepulveda can have few complaints after grabbing a lift for a few hundred metres on stage 14.

The Argentinian was disqualified at the finish of stage for hopping in a team car on the final climb up to Mende – but not his own car, one of rival French team Ag2r-La Mondiale.

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Sepulveda’s manager Emmanuel Hubert confirmed after the race that his rider had been disqualified and said the 24-year-old had mechanical problems on the climb.

“At the top of the climb he broke his chain and was rescued by the Ag2r team, who gave him a wheel thinking that was the problem,” Hubert said.

“He was hidden by the car and I didn’t see him. I stopped 100 metres further up and Eduardo, instead of coming to the car on foot, covered the 100 metres on the backseat of the AG2R car. There is nothing to say. The rules applied.”

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Sepulveda, who was sitting 19th in the general classification, reportedly hitched a lift because he couldn’t walk up the hill, which reached gradients of 11 per cent, in his cleats.

But his little manoeuvre didn’t go unnoticed as the race jury fined him 200 Swiss Francs and booted him off the Tour.

 

  • Lomus.

    They aren’t complaining that they gave him the wheel. The problem was that he hopped inside the car.

  • IamFree

    I’m not sure I totally understand… Did he get a ride up the hill, then jump back on his bike and carry on racing? I could see being DQd for that. None of the articles I’ve see have explicitly said that’s what he did.

  • Chris

    What’s wrong with walking up a steep hill in cleats? I do it all the time.
    Now thumbing a lift, I never thought of that, sounds like a good idea!

  • blemcooper

    By “foreign”, do you mean “not the rider’s own” as opposed to nationality? Both of the teams involved are French.

    We can argue about loaning wheels between teams, sticky bottles, drafting cars, etc. being penalized, but getting into a car and moving forward on the course–that is not an defensible position, period. And as the rules are, you cannot ride backwards either, so it’s not like the car could help him forward, get a new bike, ride the bike back the 100m and start over from the point he got in the car.

    Either he should’ve taken off his shoes if that was the problem preventing running/walking forward to his team car, or he should have gone on the dirt/grass on the side for traction, or his team should have run back with a bike for him or he should wait for a neutral service car to offer a temporary spare bike.

    What I find inconceivable is that a UCI WorldTeam level sports director saw fit to take a rider, any rider, from any team, into his car and drive him forward. There goes BMC’s Jim Ochowicz’s argument about the Pro Conti teams being unqualified while the WorldTeam top level guys are somehow better. So your question on conspiracy to generate a DQ is a reasonable one IMHO. Unless the Ag2r folks thought the rider was quitting the race and let him in the car to be sheltered from severe weather, if the rules provide for it, the sport director in the Ag2r car should be DQ’d as well.

    EDIT: reading quotes on another site, it seems the rider just opened the door and sat in the car that had stopped to offer him a wheel. So it’s not as though Ag2r invited him into the car, he just got in. So I guess t hey didn’t want to hang around holding up others behind them and just drove on. So maybe not eject the Ag2r director, just fine him for not telling the rider to get out of the car.

  • Kevino Daviessss

    He physically got off his bike and had a lift in the back of the car!! It’s a bike race!

  • poisonjunction

    Anything the Giro jury do, ‘we’ can do better . . . . . . pathetic!

    Liberty, Fraternity, Equality. . . . . . Rules are for guidance, not ‘writ in stone’!

    But . . . ‘accepting a wheel from another team’, don’t teams keep up with Giro gossip?
    . . . I suppose ‘heat of the moment’, the difficulty of Team cars never being ‘there’ when you really need them, the ‘difficulty’ of walking uphill in cleated shoe[so the jury expect removing shoes and walking in stockinged feet] etc,. etc.

    Just excuses?

    So it’s OK to allow the use of the ‘Tour caravan’ to regain the peloton after punctures or accident’s, to permit pace taking off camera motorbikes to initiate breaks, to act on personal initiative to stop the race mid stage?
    There does seem to be a lack of uniformity in applying the rules, which must confuse riders and Team support, and the watching public.

    Question . . did the ‘foreign’ team knowingly offer an ‘illegal’ wheel, intending to get the opponent DQ’d? How could they NOT know of the Giro incident, cest impossible ?

    Did the French jury act independently, or take their Q, from the Giro jury verdict on Porte . . . it went ‘viral’ at the time!!

  • dourscot

    Good grief.