The chief commissaire at the Tour of Flanders has promised that the race jury could disqualify any riders who ride on the pavement in Sunday’s race.
Didier Simon said that he and his fellow commissaires will apply a zero tolerance approach in the Tour of Flanders, threatening to expel riders from the race rather than issue them with fines.
“I am aware of the problem [of riders riding on pavements],” Simon told Het Laaste Nieuws.
“On Sunday I will take my responsibility. If I – or my colleagues – can see an infringement and can identify a rider riding on a footpath in order to gain even one metre advantage, then he will be unceremoniously excluded from the race. No discussion.”
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According to UCI rules “use of sidewalks/pavements, paths or cycle paths that do not form part of the course” can be punished by a 200CHF fine and/or elimination.
15 riders, including eventual race winner Philippe Gilbert, were fined for riding on the pavement on the opening stage of the Three Days of De Panne, while Greg Van Avermaet, Peter Sagan, and Sep Vanmarcke were also fined for the same offence at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
Responding to suggestions that commissaires were reluctant to impose serious penalties, such as disqualification, on well-known riders, Simon insisted that that was not the case.
“It really doesn’t matter who the rider is. Just look at Romain Bardet [who was disqualified from Paris-Nice for holding on to a car].”
Another UCI commissaire, Guy Dobbelaere, told the Belgian newspaper that the UCI was currently looking into the punishments for riding on pavements, saying that the the 200CHF fine was sometimes too lenient, while disqualification could be too drastic.
However Dobbelaere said that commissaires could use disqualification “to set an example”.