Volta a Catalunya changes race leader for the fourth time in less than 24 hours

Ben Hermans (BMC Racing) is the fourth rider to be announced as the leader after the first stage of the Volta a Catalunya

(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

All of Movistar's team at the Volta a Catalunya have been given time punishments for the actions of some riders in pushing one another in stage two's team time trial - leading to the organisers announcing that BMC Racing's Ben Hermans is the fourth different leader in less than 24 hours.

The Spanish team narrowly won Tuesday's 41.3km TTT by two seconds but José Joaquin Rojas was retrospectively deducted three minutes from his overall time after video footage showed him giving a helping hand to one of his teammates up a climb.

Despite inheriting the lead from Davide Cimolai (FDJ) after the stage, Rojas was subsequently stripped of the race lead and his teammate Alejandro Valverde was announced as the new incumbent of the leader's jersey.

>>> Movistar rider stripped of Volta a Catalunya lead for pushing team-mates in team time trial

But this morning, the UCI have announced that the entire Movistar team have been punished, in accordance with their own rules and in the wake of criticism from BMC Racing, who finished second in Banyoles.

The result is Hermans - the Tour of Oman winner last month - is the new race leader going in today's stage that finishes atop the La Molina ski resort.

Originally, Nelson Oliveira and Andrey Amador were docked one and two minutes respectively, alongside Rojas, but UCI rules stipulate that "riders, even of the same team, may not push one another" and if this happens, there is a "one minute penalty  in stage classification for each rider in the team."

Seven of Hermans' teammates, including Tejay van Garderen and Rohan Dennis, are on the same time as the Belgian and they hold a 44 second advantage over Chris Froome's and Geraint Thomas's Team Sky; Movistar and Valverde are now 58 seconds in arrears.

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Chris Marshall-Bell

Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.

Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.