Jumbo-Visma sports director Merijn Zeeman has been thrown off the Tour de France for ‘improper behaviour’ towards a UCI member.
The race’s jury report for stage 18 to La Roche-sur-Foron on Thursday said the Dutchman had been removed from the race for what it described as “intimidation, name calling, improper behavior of a team member towards a UCI member.”
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Despite being revealed in the stage 18 report, the incident took place at a bike check following stage 17 of the race, the summit finish to the Col de la Loze won by Miguel Ángel López (Astana).
Under UCI article 8.2.2 the Zeeman, who has been with Jumbo-Visma since 2012, was kicked off the race and fined 2,000 CHF (£1698) for the offence. The UCI confirmed the expulsion Zeeman from the race and explained the incident further in a statement on Thursday evening.
“The UCI Commissaires Panel has excluded Merijn Zeeman, Team Manager of the Jumbo – Visma team from the Tour de France for “intimidation, insults, improper behaviour of a team member towards a UCI member during the bike check carried out at the end of stage 17″, in accordance with article 8.2.2 of the UCI Regulations,” the statement said.
“The commissaires found that Mr. Zeeman behaved in an unacceptable manner towards the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) staff responsible for carrying out an X-ray control and then dismantling the Yellow Jersey bike at the finish of the stage at Col de la Loze in accordance with UCI regulations relating to the fight against technological fraud.
“As a result, Mr. Zeeman was excluded from the event and fined CHF 2,000. The UCI has made the fight against technological fraud one of its priorities to ensure the credibility of the results, and calls on all cycling families (riders, teams and organizers) to join forces to ensure the reputation of our sport.”
The 41-year-old will now be unable to help the team from within “accredited areas” in the final three stages of the race, with the team still holding the yellow jersey through Primož Roglič. The Slovenian looks assured to win the race if he can safely navigate stage 19 and not lose too much time to second place Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) on the 36.2km mountain time trial to Planche des Belles Filles on stage 20.
In a statement released by the Jumbo-Visma team late on Thursday night, Zeeman apologised for altercation which saw him get angry when the UCI commissaire wanted to dismantle the crankset of Roglič’s bike and damaged it.
Zeeman said: “I got upset when the commissioner dismounted [sic] the crankset from Primož’s bike. We stand for a fair sport and that includes checks, but that must be done in a reasonable way. Despite that, I should have kept myself cool and approached the UCI commissioner in a more respectful way.”