Rigoberto Uran of Cannondale-Drapac is back to within 35 seconds of overall leader Fabio Aru after the race jury overturned a 20-second time penalty it had handed him after yesterday’s Stage 12.
The Colombian rider finished second to AG2R-La Mondiale’s Romain Bardet, but was one of three riders handed a 20-second penalty for taking an illegal drink inside the final 20 kilometres of the stage, as was LottoNL-Jumbo’s George Bennett, who is ninth overall, 4 minutes 4 seconds off the lead.
But Bardet, runner-up to Team Sky’s Chris Froome last year and now third overall, 25 seconds behind Aru, was not sanctioned despite being spotted taking bottle from the same spectators at the roadside as Bennett did.
Uran was handed a bottle by someone who turned out to be an employee of Cannondale France, acting on his own initiative, according to Jonathan Vaughters, CEO of Cannondale-Drapac’s management company, Slipstream Sports.
Vaughters also called for greater consistency from the UCI race jury and questioned whether its president, Philippe Marien, was the correct person to lead it following a number of accusations of inconsistent application of the rules during this year’s race.
Writing on Twitter this morning, Vaughters said: “Incredible news!!! @UCI_cycling has reversed decision!!! No penalty for Rigo!!!! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!”
He added: “I have to be happy. But I never asked for what they did. We accepted the penalty.”
Some social media users wondered whether Bardet not being sanctioned yesterday might be some kind of Gallic conspiracy as the country continues to wait for its first Tour de France winner since Bernard Hinault in 1985.
They will no doubt have noted that by absolving Uran and Bennett, the race jury has ensured they have now been treated the same way as Bardet – while avoiding imposing a 20-second penalty on the AG2R-La Mondiale rider that UCI regulations would appear to require.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.