SD Worx blast ‘unjustified’ time penalty given to Demi Vollering at Tour de France Femmes

Dutchwoman docked 20 seconds in the overall standings after slipstreaming team car

Demi Vollering racing at the Tour de France Femmes
(Image credit: Getty)

SD Worx directeurs sportifs Anna van der Breggen and Danny Stam have criticised the time penalty dealt to Demi Vollering on stage five of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift.

The team’s leader was given a 20-second penalty after she slipstreamed behind her team car during the stage. The incident came with around 65km remaining, after Vollering suffered a rear wheel puncture. 

Despite a race commissaire on a motorbike warning against it, the car, driven by Stam, continued to draft Vollering back through the race convoy. Stam received a fine of 200 CHF (£180), while Vollering was fined £90 (100 CHF) and docked 20 seconds in the overall standings. 

The Dutchwoman was also deducted 10 points in the points classification and two in the mountains classification. 

In a statement released by SD Worx late on Thursday evening, Van der Breggen said: “This time penalty falls raw on us. I cycled at the highest level for a long time. It used to be allowed to come back behind the car after equipment failure or a flat tyre. The penalty makes it seem that we are doing something totally unheard of, while in reality, riders return behind the car every day.  

“It is the first time I have experienced such a punishment. The moment the commissaire indicated we should stop, Demi rode from car to car herself back to the tail of the peloton. Therefore, for Demi, this punishment is unjustified.”

As a result of the time penalty, Vollering fell from second place in the overall standings, at 43 seconds to race leader Lotte Kopecky, to seventh, at 1-03. She also now trails GC rival Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) by 12 seconds. 

“I have no clue why I get this penalty,” the 26-year-old told Cyclingnews at stage five’s finish in Albi. “For the first part I went behind the car, then I assumed Danny was in his place in the caravan and I went directly around, also because there was no place at first. He was on the left side and I could not pass when there are two lines of cars next to each other. I dare not to pass because it’s so dangerous. 

"I never knew that this was forbidden, to come after a mechanical. The last part I did all by myself so I don't understand, because later Danny came more to the front for a bottle and I took two bottles.”

After the stage, Stam and Van der Breggen walked almost a kilometre from their team bus to discuss the penalty with the race jury. 

“It’s a ridiculous punishment, that in [Vollering's] eyes and our eyes, is not fair,” Stam told Cyclingnews. "If the decision is made by someone who sits in the car, probably never was on the bike, then I am disappointed in this kind of thing."

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