Former British champion Adam Blythe was left disappointed after being disqualified from the final stage of the Tour of Oman on Sunday.
The 28-year-old received the sanction mid-race after taking an irregular bike change in the closing kilometres of the 135.5km stage between Al Mouj and Matrah Corniche.
The issue arose when Aqua Blue rider Blythe took a bike from the side of the road as the peloton passed the team car, which had gone ahead to prepare the bike.
Both team directeur sportif Martyn Irvine and Blythe himself were too angry speak with Cycling Weekly after the race.
However, the president of the jury – chief commissaire – Jean-Pierre Coppenolle spoke to reporters at the finish line.
“The team manager of Blythe asked if he could go in front To prepare the bike, and I said yes because the new system of brakes is not easy,” Copppenolle said.
“He can go to the front to prepare the bike, but the changing of the bike that must happen behind the bunch and from the car.
“He gives the bike, but from the front, with the new rules it is not allowed.”
Technical support during races is covered by UCI regulation 2.3.029 which states,
“… Mechanical assistance at fixed locations on the course is limited to wheel changes only except for races on a circuit where bike changes can be made in the authorized zones.
“Any mechanical assistance which fails to meet the obligations above will result in the disqualification of the rider either immediately, or after the race if proven by any means and verified by the commissaires (article 12.1.001).”
The following regulation, 2.3.030 continues
“Whatever the position of a rider in the race, he may receive such assistance and mechanical check (brakes for example) only to the rear of his bunch and when stationary…”
Spare bikes at the Tour of Oman are transported in modified pick up trucks, the bikes carried sideways with the front wheel removed.
This year Aqua Blue have been riding the new 3T Strada which not only boasts a single chainring set up, but also disc brakes.
Last week during stage two of the Dubai Tour, Quick-Step Floors’ sprinter Elia Viviani suffered a puncture with 20km remaining and the consequent wheel change took 50 seconds to complete. Viviani won that stage, but it was that sort of delay Aqua Blue may have been trying to avoid.
Blythe’s disappointment is wholly justified as the incident meant he was unable to contest the sprint finish later won by Alexander Kristoff (UAE Emirates).
With third place on the final stage of the Dubai Tour last week and three other recent top 10 results, Blythe has shown good sprint form this year, and missed out on the chance of victory as a result of the disqualification.
It went form bad to worse for Aqua Blue in the race as Blythe’s lead out man Shane Archbold was in excellent position in the final kilometre, but suffered a mechanical and he too was unable to contest the sprint.