As the Tour de France heads into the decisive final weekend of racing, two teams are being forced to rethink their strategies after key riders were disqualified.
Team Ineos road captain Luke Rowe and Jumbo-Visma's Tony Martin were involved in an altercation in the final 15km of stage 17 to Gap.
Rowe had pushed Jumbo-Visma's leader Steven Kruijswijk, which prompted Martin to swerve into the Welshman, almost causing him to crash. In retaliation, Rowe then appeared to push or shove Martin's face.
After the stage, race commissaires reviewed the footage and announced that both riders would be thrown off the Tour de France 2019.
Team Ineos and Jumbo-Visma are trying to appeal the decision. Here is a joint statement released by the teams on Wednesday evening (July 24):
"We believe this is a very harsh decision by the race commissaries and against the spirit of what has been such a fantastic race to date. It was the sort of incident that merits a fine and a warning but certainly not expulsion from the race - a ‘yellow card’ but not a ‘red’. Luke and Tony recognised it for what it was - a minor spat on the road at the end of a sweltering day in the saddle. It didn’t affect any other rider and it didn’t disadvantage any other team. They rode to the end of the stage together where they both shook hands. There was no ill will and they clearly still have a lot of respect for one another. We believe it is unjust that their Tour could come to an end over something like this at this point in the race."
The UCI also released its own statement:
"The UCI Commissaires’ Panel has decided to disqualify Tony Martin (Jumbo-Visma) and Luke Rowe (Ineos) for their behaviour towards each other, at 186 km of stage 17 of the Tour de France between Nîmes and Gap. Based on article 2.12.007/8.2.1 (“Failure to respect instructions, improper, dangerous or violent behaviour; damage to the environment or the image of the sport / Between riders”), riders’ attitude has been deemed unacceptable. Consequently, the offence has led UCI commissaires to the exclusion of the riders, accompanied by fines and points penalties, after hearing teams’ representatives."
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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.
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