Movistar have expressed their anger at being handed a penalty which cost them the team time trial stage win at the Volta a Catalunya on Tuesday, saying “sets a dangerous precedent for the future.”
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José Joaquin Rojas was shown on TV to touch two of his teammates as they drifted back in the pace line, helping them in to second to last position.
BMC, who originally finished second on the stage, were quick to complain to commissaires who eventually declared on Wednesday morning that all of the Movistar riders would be punished for the pushing, handing race leadership to Ben Hermans.
The race leadership had changed three times before Belgian Hermans began the day in the leader’s jersey after several riders had been punished by commissaires.
While BMC were delighted with ruling, Movistar made clear in an announcement on Wednesday that punishing what they thought was a safety precaution from Rojas can set a dangerous trend for future racing.
“It’s a penalty due to an infringement which we consider absolutely non-existent,” the team said.
“The rider performing the action does not “push” his team-mates, but touches the back of them with his right hand to warn them that they must take his position into the team row, a fact that doesn’t influence the race’s outcome at all.
“We deeply regret that a sporting event sees its results distorted by the application of a rule which punishes pushing between team-mates, something which, as shown by the images, was not the case yesterday.
“We consider this sets a dangerous precedent for the future, since any touch between riders from now on will have to be punished.”
The team went on to publish a diagram of the incident, outlining how they felt the incident took place:
“Rojas, back number #4, puts his hand for less than a second on his team-mates’ back: 50 hundredths of a second on Amador, back number #3 (from 42’51″55 to 42’52″05, Movistar Team’s racing time -lower end of pictures-), and 80 hundredths of a second on Oliveira, back number #7 (from 43’17″18 to 43’17″97).
His right-hand arm remains in the same position, which shows that he only tries to warn his team-mates so they take their position into the row.
The team went some way to making up for losing their TTT victory as Alejandro Valverde went on to win the race’s first summit finish on stage three.