The riders stayed put on the start line when they were supposed to start the mountainous stage 11, with Chris Froome off his bike at the front of the rollout and remonstrating with race organisers.
The protest is said to be related to the three-second rule that wasn’t implemented at the finish of stage 10, which meant Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) took the red jersey off Froome’s team-mate Richard Carapaz.
The three-second rule was introduced a few years ago to try and make flat sprint stages safer, with gaps of three-seconds at the finish line needed in order to implement time gaps between riders so that GC riders wouldn’t also fight for the line alongside sprint trains.
On stage 10 Roglič rode away from the rest of the field, including Carapaz, to take the victory, with gaps opening up behind and race organisers failing to apply the three-second rule that should have been included on the flat stage.
As the peloton sat motionless on the start line, Cofidis’ Luis Ángel Maté then made his way through to start the stage on his own, other members of the peloton waving him off sarcastically. Maté eventually came to a stop further up the road, sitting down on his bike and looking behind him, waiting for the peloton rollout.
Froome’s conversation with race organisers continued, then having a discussion with riders from Jumbo-Visma, before eventually they all began the stage following a short delay.
“The UCI made a mistake. Rulebook said the three second protocol was applied. At the finish they changed their mind. This would’ve influenced how we raced. All riders in the CPA, including Jumbo-Visma, were onboard with this protest,” EF Pro Cycling’s Michael Woods told Eurosport before the start, his team leader Hugh Carthy having lost 10 seconds on stage 11.
“Great to see the peloton sticking together at the Vuelta. Well, apart from the usual suspects,” Geraint Thomas said in support of his team-mates.