Nils Eekhoff’s attempts to appeal his disqualification from the Yorkshire World Championship under-23 race has been thrown out by a sporting court.
Dutchman Eekhoff has been fighting against the decision since he crossed the line first in the U23 road race at the 2019 Worlds, but was then stripped of his rainbow jersey for drafting behind a team car.
Victory was instead handed to Italian Samuele Battiestella, while Eekhoff appealed the race jury’s decision to disqualify him at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Now a year and a half after the race, the CAS has ruled Eekhoff cannot appeal the decision.
In an interview with Dutch newspaper AD, 23-year-old Eekhoff said: “I thought it was important to say that I didn’t agree because they chose an under-23 rider to set as some sort of example.
“If you don’t say anything, nothing will change.”
Eekhoff crossed the line first in the under-23 road race in September 2019, but was later disqualified from the race after the race jury were alerted to video of him slipstreaming behind his team car.
After crashing more than 100km from the finish after hitting a parked course on the course, Eekhoff received medical assistance and then used the slipstream of a team car to return to the back of the bunch – a move that is fairly common in races despite being banned under UCI rules.
The UCI later said that the jury had been alerted to the footage by the video referee after the race had finished, with the referee checking video of Eekhoff because he had won.
The day after the race, the UCI released a two-minute video of the incident and clarified the situation.
Battistella, who had finished second in the seven-up sprint that decided the race, was promoted to gold medal winner, Stefan Bissegger (Switzerland) took silver and Britain’s Tom Pidcock was bumped up to third.
Eekhoff said: “I am proud of the race I rode but no, I don’t feel like a world champion, not even a little.
“For that you have to undergo that ceremony and get that sweater, I think. When I see Samuele Battistella riding I think somewhere ‘it was actually me.’
“But that’s about it. I have put a line under it, I am not putting energy into it.”
Eekhoff says he wants to put the incident behind him and that it has motivated him to win races in the future.
Since the Yorkshire Worlds he has since signed a three-year contract with Team DSM and rode his first WorldTour season in 2020, competing in the opening Classics weekend and finishing his season at the tour of Flanders.