Cyclocross star Mathieu van der Poel was lucky to escape disqualification from a road race in Belgium after putting his cross skills to use by bunny hopping onto a pavement and cutting a corner across some grass.
Van der Poel, who took overall victory in the cyclocross World Cup last winter, was taking part in the Dwars door het Hageland on Friday when he decided to take unusual measures to regain contact with the bunch as he found himself a few metres off the back.
Spotting an opportunity to take a slight short-cut through a corner, Van der Poel hopped onto the pavement on the left-hand side of the road, before swing right across the grass and between a couple of signs to get back into the peloton.
According to UCI regulations the “Use of sidewalks/pavements, paths or cycle paths that do not form part of the course” can be punished with a 200CHF fine and/or disqualification from the race.
However Van der Poel was not disqualified for his actions, as he abandoned the one-day race before the finish in Diest. The race was won by Latvian champion Krists Neilands (Israel Cycling Academy) who crossed the line solo with a 33-second advantage over Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) who won the sprint for second.
Riders using cycle paths and pavements rather than the road was an area of significant controversy during the 2018 Classics season, with commissaires voicing frustration over the large number of riders breaking the rules during Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, and Luke Rowe being disqualified from the Tour of Flanders for riding on a cycle path behind spectators.
The UCI has recently introduced video commissaires to help police illegal riding such as this, but with these new commissaires only working on Grand Tours, Monuments, and the World Championships, there would have been no video commissaire in place for this 1.1-level race.
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