Should Tyler Farrar have been disqualified for accepting outside help at the Tour Down Under? Not according to an active UCI jury member, who says that the governing body must be flexible and act according to the circumstances
The Dimension Data rider borrowed a bike from a fan to finish the third stage of the Tour Down Under on Thursday a move that is technically against the UCI rules. A similar rule infringement saw Richie Porte, then racing for Sky, docked two minutes in the overall standings of the 2015 Giro d’Italia.
“This is different than the Giro with Porte and [Simon] Clarke, riders from different teams who had their team-mates there to support them,” a UCI jury member told Cycling Weekly.
The member, who works at top races throughout the season but was not in Australia, preferred to remain unnamed.
Watch: Tour Down Under stage three highlights
“Every incident has its own circumstances that the jury must consider. Some jury members rule one way or another, but you have to be there to see it and decide.”
In this case, Farrar was not competing for the overall or the stage, and risked not finishing the race and continuing. He placed third last, 135th, at 13-07 minutes back behind winner Simon Gerrans (Orica-Greenedge).
“Without his help, I would’ve travelled all the way to Australia for only two and a half days of racing,” Farrar told Het Nieuwsblad.
The jury usually consists of four members of different nationalities appointed by the governing body.
It said today that it made an exception “because a bad crash with several other riders involved created a hectic situation which meant neither his team car nor the event’s neutral service vehicle was in a position to provide assistance.
“In normal circumstances accepting outside assistance such as Farrar did today would result in his disqualification from the race.”
It could have applied rule 12.1.040 / 20.2, non-regulation breakdown or medial assistance, which could have resulted in elimination.
“We have to follow the rules that are written and sometimes we can make adjustments,” said the unnamed official.
“You have to do it on the fly and at times after sitting down in a meeting with the other jury members.”
Stefano Allocchio, the Giro d’Italia’s course director, said that sometimes cycling enters a grey area and that is why the jury is in place to rule.
“The rules say that you can’t take a bike from a fan,” Allocchio told Cycling Weekly.
“In these cases, the organiser can’t do anything, it’s the jury who decides. Maybe the jury just decided everything was OK, this and that happened, and we won’t apply the rule.”
Speaking at the time of the Porte decision, UCI President Brian Cookson said, “There are times when things matter and times when [they] don’t really matter, and that’s part of the jury’s job.
“When a rider in the top-three overall has an incident like that in the last few kilometres of the race – that can’t be ignored.”