Deceuninck – Quick-Step boss Patrick Lefevere has criticised the commissaries for relegating Sam Bennett on stage nine of the Vuelta a España after he crossed the line first, calling the decision “bulls**t”.
The race jury relegated Bennett to last position in the bunch for an “irregular sprint”, docking him five points in the green jersey competition and handing him a fine of 500 Swiss Francs.
Lefevere is quick to take to Twitter after a racing incident and spared no time in sharing his thoughts after the Irishman was denied his 50th career win, and Deceuninck – Quick-Step their 100th Grand Tour stage.
“What bulls**t. He was in his lead-out and the Trek rider wanted to pull him out of it. But we’ve known for a long time the incompetence of the UCI VAR safety first,” Lefevere said. “A lead-out has to be respected and Sam Bennett defended his line.”
Trek-Segafredo’s general manager, Luca Guercilena, soon waded in, replying that his rider was first taken off Ackermann’s wheel by the Deceuninck – Quick-Step train.
“To be clear, first he was put off Ackerman wheel by your lead out,” Guercilena argued. “Then Bennett tried to put him down two times in a totally incorrect and useless way. TV images are clear enough. No VAR needed at all.”
Ackermann said he didn’t expect to be given the win, while Bennett was interviewed as the stage winner at the start of the 26 minutes it took to relegate the Irishman and elevate the German.
Bennett even drew attention to the barging that was happening on the run-in, not even contemplating that he may be in the wrong but merely defending his position in the bunch.
“It was a big fight with some guys nearly putting us in the barriers, trying to take the wheel, was a bit sketchy but we managed to stay upright,” Bennett said before he was stripped of the victory.
The sprinter will have an immediate chance to bounce back tomorrow, as stage 10 offers up another day for the fast men on the 185km route from Castro Urdiales to Suances.