Tour de France: Philippe Gilbert reveals UCI intervened in neutralisation plans for stage three

The former world champion did put some blame on the riders too, but says the final two crashes could've been avoided

Philippe Gilbert talks to the press before the opening stage of the Tour de France 2021
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Philippe Gilbert has said that the UCI stepped in and stopped ASO allowing the final 5km of stage three of the 2021 Tour de France to be neutralised for the general classification.

Gilbert (Lotto-Soudal) and other riders pointed out the dangers of the final few kilometres of the third stage of the Tour and wanted the last 5km neutralised.

Former world champion and yellow jersey wearer, Gilbert voiced his frustration with the UCI, after they did not neutralise the final 5km of stage three despite concerns shown by teams and the Cyclistes Professionnels Associes (CPA).

>>> Tour de France stage four LIVE: Redon to Fougères

In a video posted to his YouTube channel, Gilbert pointed out the dangers of the final few kilometres of the race into Pontivy which saw multiple crashes, including Gilbert's team-mate, Caleb Ewan who broke his collarbone.

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The Belgian star voiced his frustration with the UCI and other teams after both had looked at the route and not raised any issues with ASO.

Gilbert said that if more teams had raised the issue with the route design during the recons before the race started then ASO would have changed it. Although, he did say that all but the final two crashes could've been avoided, including the crash which saw Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious) abandon, as well as the Ewan crash if the route been safer. He said he did not see the crashes of Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) and Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) but described them as racing incidents and not the fault of ASO.

Speaking in his video, Gilbert said: "There were even talks yesterday between the CPA with representatives of each team and Pascal Chanteaur who is the CPA representative in the Tour and the riders had proposed to shift the time recording to 5km from the finish.

"Why 5km from the finish? Well, quite simply because we had analysed the course and we saw that the final was extremely dangerous. And to avoid nervousness, we had proposed the neutralisation of the time at the 5km which would have avoided all the risk-taking in this nervous stretch and on the far from perfect roads.

"So, ASO agreed but the UCI commissioners did not accept the demand. It was rejected this morning at the start. It’s a pity that the commissioners did not take our demand into account."

The CPA later Tweeted a full thread statement about what they thought to the stage after receiving backlash on a previous initial reaction Tweet after stage three.

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Stage four should be a much more simple approach to the line into Fourgères for another sprint stage, but Gilbert's Lotto-Soudal won't have a top sprinter to work for.

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Tim Bonville-Ginn

Hi, I'm one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter. Proud Yorkshireman from the UK's answer to Flanders, Calderdale, go check out the cobbled climbs!

I started watching cycling back in 2010, before all the hype around London 2012 and Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. In fact, it was Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's battle in the fog up the Tourmalet on stage 17 of the Tour de France.

It took me a few more years to get into the journalism side of things, but I had a good idea I wanted to get into cycling journalism by the end of year nine at school and started doing voluntary work soon after. This got me a chance to go to the London Six Days, Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain to name a few before eventually joining Eurosport's online team while I was at uni, where I studied journalism. Eurosport gave me the opportunity to work at the world championships in Harrogate back in the awful weather.

After various bar jobs, I managed to get my way into Cycling Weekly in late February of 2020 where I mostly write about racing and everything around that as it's what I specialise in but don't be surprised to see my name on other news stories.

When not writing stories for the site, I don't really switch off my cycling side as I watch every race that is televised as well as being a rider myself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager. Maybe too regular.

My bike is a well used Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on my local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being my preferred terrain.