Tinkoff-Saxo sports director Sean Yates has been suspended from his duties for a day at the Tour de France by race commissaires after an incident during Sunday’s stage 15 that saw a team mechanic throwing a bottle at a television motorbike crew.
The incident occurred as the team’s Peter Sagan tried to pull up at the side of the road to change his bike in the final 35km of the stage. Sagan had gesticulated to the motorbike to get out of the way but the bike appeared to get in between Sagan and his team car, causing tempers to momentarily flare.
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Although Yates himself was not directly involved in the bottle throw – it was mechanic Faustino Muñoz with the impressive aim – as sports director in charge of the vehicle, he has to take the one-day suspension.
The British former pro will have to sit out Monday’s stage 16 from Bourg-de-Péage to Gap.
Tinkoff-Saxo head sports director Steven De Jongh was unhappy with the TV motorbike’s positioning during the incident, but accepted the race jury’s decision to suspend Yates.
“Peter [Sagan] stopped for the bike change but the TV broadcaster’s motorbike had forced itself in between him and our car and we could not perform the bike shift efficiently.
“Peter signalled the motorbike three times to continue but without response. The outcome is that Sean can’t participate in the race on stage 16. It is the jury’s decision and we have to respect it.
“However, it’s imperative to underline that all teams including us must be able to do our work. It’s very clear that motorbikes should stay to the left leaving the riders and teams to perform on the right side. That didn’t happen today, so we hope and expect that this scenario won’t play out again.”
Sagan has started the day in an escape group. After changing from a Specialized Tarmac to a Venge for the stage finale, Sagan went on to claim fourth place in Valence in the bunch sprint behind stage winner André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal).
Although Sagan has yet to win a stage in the 2015 race, he is safely leading the points classification – and it will now be hard to shift him from the green jersey as the race heads in the Alps and on to its conclusion in Paris on July 26.
Tinkoff-Saxo overall contender Alberto Contador is currently in fifth place in the general classification, four minutes and 23 seconds behind leader Chris Froome (Sky).
Video: Tour de France stage 15 highlights