Astana manager Alexander Vinokourov has apologised for the rule breaking that led to his rider Vincenzo Nibali being ejected from the Vuelta a España.
Nibali held on to a team car after being held up by a crash on stage two and sped back towards the front group, resulting in the race jury sending him home along with the directeur sportif driving the car, Alexandre Shefer.
Vinokourov told L’Equipe that he thought the disqualification was ‘very strict’ but nevertheless the Kazakh, winner of the Vuelta in 2006, apologised to the organisers and the fans.
“We must recognize that we have broken the rules,” Vinokourov told the French paper. “That’s why I make my apologies to the organisers, the audience, the fans and the sponsors of this event.
“I think the disqualification is very strict, but I can not deny that he has broken the rules and therefore we must accept this decision.”
With Nibali struggling to catch up with the driving front group, the Italian simply held onto the door of his car and sped off up the road, leaving the other riders in the chase group slightly bewildered.
The following day, Cofidis sprinter Nacer Bouhanni was fined just CHF100 for holding on for 12 seconds in a ‘sticky bottle’ incident involving his team car.
Vinokourov said that Nibali was the only one chasing in his group and was obliged to go alone, or – as it turned out – with a little assistance.
“After the big crash that the majority of the peloton was involved in, everyone was nervous, including Vincenzo Nibali, because the teams of the favorites drove at full speed. Vincenzo was obliged to go chasing on his own. “
“Some teams have used the opportunity to eliminate the group. It has been found that fair play in cycling is a thing of the past.”