Team Sky leader and Giro d’Italia favourite Richie Porte has received a sanction of two minutes and 200 Swiss Francs for receiving help from a rival team, Orica-GreenEdge, during stage 10 of the race to Forlì. Simon Clarke, the Orica rider that helped him, has also been sanctioned for the same amount.
After Porte punctured his front tyre in the final 10 kilometres of the stage, fellow Australian Clarke stopped, took out his wheel and put it in Porte’s bike.
According to UCI Rule 12.1.040, Porte was knocked further back down the overall for accepting the gesture.
The rule, “Non-regulation assistance to a rider of another team”, reads that a rider may be fined and receive a two-minute time penalty and CHF 200 fine for a first offence. The four-person jury applied it to both Porte and Clarke.
Sky’s sports director, Dario Cioni told reporters outside the pressroom in Forlì: “No comment.”
The UCI jury at the Giro d’Italia met and only said that it would communicate its decision in a press release. Race director, Mauro Vegni told Cycling Weekly that he did not want to comment immediately.
The penalty means Porte lost two minutes and 47 seconds on stage 10.
Porte’s Sky teammates drafted him to the finish, but Porte still came in 47 seconds behind the sprinters’ group with race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo). He slid from third to fourth overall at 1-09 minutes.
The new penalty puts him in 12th overall at 3-09.
“When you have that proof, the photos on the internet and directly on [his] Twitter, it made it evident that something happened that shouldn’t have,” Vegni said later to Cycling Weekly.
“But what credibility can the Giro have if we are to allow something like this? This credibility applies, even if sometimes this hurts someone.”
Vegni said that he understood the kind gesture Clarke was making, but the rules are clear.
“You can’t pass equipment to another team,” Vegni said. “If you know that, then you should not do so for risk of penalty, and in fact the penalty happened.”
Two more stages remain until Saturday’s 59.4-kilometre time trial from Treviso, where Porte could have a chance to gain time on his rivals. Now, however, he appears too far back to think about the pink jersey already on Saturday.
Following the time trial, Porte will be forced to make an aggressive race through the Alps if he wants to win on May 31 in Milan.