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.
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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.
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.