Two riders have been disqualified from the Tour of Flanders inside the opening 50km after a fracas.
Astana’s Yevgeniy Fedorov and Alpecin-Fenix’s Otto Vergaerde have been chucked off the race after Fedorov brake checked Vergaerde and Vergaerde reacted by slamming himself into Fedorov.
Fedorov was attempting to attack up to the breakaway, which was only 40 seconds up the road, and Vergaerde followed his move. Frustrated, Fedorov looked behind before easing up, touching on his brakes as Vergaerde came around the right-hand side.
Seeing what Fedorov had been trying to do, Vergaerde barged into Fedorov, with Bora-Hansgrohe’s Lukas Pöstlberger, sat behind the pair, raising his arms in exasperation as to what he’d just witnessed.
Neither rider came down during the altercation, but the incident will have hardly delighted race organisers, especially with the renewed focus on safety over the past year.
A few kilometres later and the commissaires had made their decision, as news filtered through that both riders had been disqualified from the race for their actions. Vergaerde and Fedorov could be spotted remonstrating with the race director’s car, before Vergaerde fell back to complain to the Astana team car as well.
“Fedorov wanted to try and chase up to the breakaway, but he braked,” Vergaerde said.
“He almost knocked me down. I reacted. It’s a shame to let the team down. I was the one who was designated to ride behind the breakaway.”
More to follow…