Six riders found themselves dropping down the standings of Wednesday’s Giro d’Italia time trial after race commissaires dished out time penalties of up to two minutes for drafting between vehicles and other riders.
UAE Team Emirates riders Valerio Conti and Diego Ulissi were the most serious perpetrators, with commissaires penalising both riders two minutes after Ulissi caught Conti, who had started a minute ahead of him, before riding behind his team-mate for a period of time.
That drafting had initially helped Ulissi post a surprise eighth place, finishing 40 seconds behind eventual winner Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) and in the same time as five-time British time trial champion Alex Dowsett (Katusha-Alpecin). However the time penalty meant that he was eventually classified in 45th place.
Ulissi and Conti’s team-mate Fabio Aru was also penalised 20 seconds for drafting behind vehicles, and said that although he respects the race jury’s decision to penalise him time, he denied that he was intentionally trying to gain an advantage.
Aru dropped out of overall contention on Sunday after he lost nearly 20 minutes on the stage to Sappada, but produced a surprisingly strong time trial on stage 16 to finish in a provisional sixth place, just 37 seconds behind Dennis
However Aru’s time didn’t stand for long as he was penalised 20 seconds, dropping him to eighth in the stage standings.
“I respect the commissaires’ decision but I was not trying to gain an unfair advantage ,” Aru said after the stage.
“During the race, I caught some riders and on parts of the road there were motorbikes and cars. The commissaires have decided to punish me because those vehicles were there a short distance in front of me.”
Ben Hermans (Israel Cycling Academy), Remi Cavagna (Quick-Step Floors), and Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) – who was filmed riding behind a Trek-Segafredo van after catching one of his team-mates – were also penalised 20 seconds on the stage.