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
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.