Roglic team’s di­rec­tor thrown off the Tour

Jumbo-Visma chief ‘in­sulted’ of­fi­cial check­ing leader’s bike Kwiatkowsk­i takes stage as un­der-fire Ineos re­store pride

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Tom Cary cy­cling cor­re­spon­dent at La Roche-sur-Foron

Jumbo-Visma sports di­rec­tor Mer­ijn Zee­man has been thrown off the Tour de France for “in­tim­i­dat­ing” and “in­sult­ing” an of­fi­cial who was try­ing to check the bike of race leader Pri­moz Roglic for pos­si­ble tech­no­log­i­cal fraud, it has emerged.

In a dra­matic devel­op­ment last night, with Roglic days away from al­most cer­tainly be­ing crowned Tour champion in Paris, the race’s jury re­port fol­low­ing yes­ter­day’s 18th stage re­vealed that Zee­man had been re­moved from the race for what it de­scribed as “in­tim­i­da­tion, name call­ing, and im­proper be­hav­iour of a team mem­ber to­wards a UCI mem­ber”.

Al­though the in­ci­dent was logged af­ter yes­ter­day’s stage from Meri­bel to La Roche-sur-Foron, won by Ineos Gre­nadiers’ Michal Kwiatkowsk­i, it ac­tu­ally took place at a bike check fol­low­ing stage 17 of the race, the thrilling sum­mit fin­ish on the Col de la Loze won by Miguel An­gel Lopez (As­tana).

Un­der UCI ar­ti­cle 8.2.2, Zee­man, who has been with Jumbo-Visma since 2012, was kicked off the race and fined 2,000 Swiss francs (£1,698) for the of­fence.

A state­ment re­leased by cy­cling’s world gov­ern­ing body last night added that Zee­man had “be­haved in an un­ac­cept­able man­ner to­wards the Union Cy­cliste In­ter­na­tionale staff re­spon­si­ble for car­ry­ing out an X-ray con­trol and then dis­man­tling the Yel­low Jer­sey bike at the fin­ish of the stage at Col de la Loze in ac­cor­dance with UCI reg­u­la­tions re­lat­ing to the fight against tech­no­log­i­cal fraud.

“As a re­sult, Mr Zee­man was ex­cluded from the event and fined. The UCI has made the fight against tech­no­log­i­cal fraud one of its pri­or­i­ties to en­sure the cred­i­bil­ity of the re­sults, and calls on all cy­cling fam­i­lies (rid­ers, teams and or­gan­is­ers) to join forces to en­sure the rep­u­ta­tion of our sport.”

Is is un­clear whether the bike check was even­tu­ally car­ried out. Zee­man, 41, will now miss the fi­nal three stages of the race. Roglic, who leads the Tour by 57 sec­onds from his fel­low Slovenian, Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emi­rates), is al­most as­sured of vic­tory in Paris on Sun­day pro­vided he does not crash in to­day’s 19th stage, a flat­ter day af­ter suc­ces­sive Alpine stages, or in to­mor­row’s in­di­vid­ual time trial to La Planche des Belles Filles.

Dutch team Jumbo-Visma have yet to com­ment on the in­ci­dent.

Ear­lier, Ineos re­stored some pride af­ter a tor­rid few days when Kwiatkowsk­i and Richard Cara­paz de­liv­ered a su­perb one-two in La Roche-sur-Foron.

The duo, who rode clear of the day’s break­away to win by al­most two min­utes, ended up cross­ing the line arm in arm rather than duk­ing it out for the win. It was rather ap­pro­pri­ate that in a week in which Ineos lost their leader, Egan Ber­nal, and copped an un­holy amount of flak over team se­lec­tion and tac­tics, two of their rid­ers should cross the

Arm in arm: Michal Kwiatkowsk­i (right) and Richard Cara­paz cross the line to­gether

line to­gether, show­ing unity. Kwiatkowsk­i was awarded the stage vic­tory while, to cap a re­demp­tive day for the Bri­tish out­fit, Cara­paz is in pos­ses­sion of the polka-dots jer­sey. Britain’s Adam Yates (Mitchel­ton-Scott) dropped from fifth to seventh in the gen­eral clas­si­fi­ca­tion af­ter los­ing con­tact with the yel­low jer­sey group on the penul­ti­mate climb.

Mean­while, world champion An­ne­miek van Vleuten will not be able to de­fend her ti­tle at next week’s world road cham­pi­onships in Imola af­ter break­ing her wrist in a crash in the fi­nale of stage seven of the Giro Rosa in Mad­doloni.

Lotte Kopecky (Lotto Soudal) won the stage with Britain’s Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Se­gafredo) sec­ond. Katya Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM), who fin­ished third, in­her­its the leader’s jer­sey from Van Vleuten.

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