Leopold König (Team Sky) was among 16 riders to be punished by race officials after Tueday’s stage at the Giro d’Italia, for holding onto motorbikes or cars for too long on the gruelling route that took in the Passo di Mortirolo.
König was handed a 50 CHF (£34) fine, a 10-second time penalty on GC and five-points removed in the points classification, but the new Team Sky leader remains in sixth position overall despite the offence, now 9-30 back on race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo).
Riders can be disqualified from the race for holding onto vehicles, as happened at the An Post Rás this month, and has previously been enforced at the Giro. In 2012, Robbie Hunter and Andrea Guardini were among four riders pulled from the race for the offence, while Britain’s Chris Froome (Team Sky) was chucked out in 2010 for holding onto a motorbike up the Mortirolo.
Jurgen van den Broeck (Lotto-Soudal) was another high-profile rider to recieve the same sanction as König in this year’s race, leaving the Belgian three minutes of the GC top ten as he finished six minutes behind winner Mikel Landa (Astana) on stage 16.
A number of other riders, Jan Polanc (Lampre-Merida), Francesco Gavazzi (Southeast), Elia Favilli (Southeast) and Marco Coledan (Trek Factory Racing), were given a more severe penalty of 100CHF (£68) and 20 seconds removed from their overall time.
The Giro jury has already hit controversy this year, after it decided to dock Sky’s original leader Richie Porte two minutes for accepting ‘non-regulation assistance’ from compatriot Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEdge) who gave Porte a wheel change.
Cycling Weekly speaks to Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas