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Frustration over "very dangerous" precedent to kick James Knox off Tour Down Under for drafting car after concussion check

Several pro riders have sprung to the Brit's defence, arguing the decision will encourage others to skip necessary safety checks...

James Knox has released a statement explaining the circumstances that led to him being disqualified from the Tour Down Under on yesterday's opening road stage, and argued commissaires "should not punish riders for staying behind after a crash to be properly evaluated".

The British rider on the Soudal-QuickStep team was kicked off the race having drafted his team's cars to return to the peloton after his heavy fall with around 55km to go of stage one.

Knox had been careful to undergo a concussion check with a doctor having hit his head in the fall, and shared photos of the visible damage to his helmet.

Ineos Grenadiers' Luke Rowe and Tao Geoghegan Hart, as well as Oliver Naesen are just three of the riders who have defended Knox, Rowe saying the ruling was "very dangerous" if it will encourage others to skip concussion checks, while Naesen called it a "joke".

Penning a lengthy statement on Twitter, Knox explained he needed a medical assessment from his team doctor to "make sure that no bones were broken and more importantly, that I was not concussed."

James Knox crash Tour Down Under (GCN+)

"After remounting, I realised my handlebar was broken and needed to stop again to change onto my spare bike," he recalled. "The race situation was settled after the intermediate sprint, but the commissaire refused to let me stay behind the car for more than a couple of kilometres. The exact reasons for this I'm not exactly sure.

"My only ambition was to rejoin the back of the convoy, or at minimum to the other crashed riders ahead of me, hoping to continue in a race I've travelled around the world to partake in and still has four days remaining.

"I watched from behind as other crashed riders were allowed to stay behind their cars to rejoin the race, as you would expect. I have to accept my own responsibility for the mistakes I made after this.

"On my own with no information given about time gaps or time cuts I took some draft from a couple of soigneur cars, who were leaving the final feed, for a few kilometres. I was seen doing so and disqualified for this.

"It seems clear to me if cycling is going to take serious steps in maintaining rider welfare, commissaires should not punish riders for staying behind after a crash to be properly evaluated.

"The actions they took in the aftermath of the crash clearly demonstrated to me that I would have been better off immediately remounting without undergoing a proper examination. The rules for returning to the convoy are very tricky but I feel like this was a clear-cut example that I wasn't trying to use the cars for an advantage, nor would I have been in that situation without crashing."

Geoghegan Hart added: "Why is the UCI actively endangering rider safety by not allowing time to asses a rider after a crash? If you can't use the convoy you are forced to forgo any concussion assessment or other medical tests... For what sporting gain?"

The race continued, without Knox, today — Rohan Dennis of Jumbo Visma winning the second stage ahead of Jay Vine, Mauro Schmid, Simon Yates and Jai Hindley who all gained a few seconds on the riders in the peloton led home by Caleb Ewan.

Race leader Alberto Bettiol cramped badly and dropped out of the leader's jersey which is now held by Dennis, two seconds ahead of Vine.

Dan joined in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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Shawn Brendan | 10 months ago

Commissaires in Australia are all failed wannabe cyclists who think wearing a blazer holding a clipboard makes them god.


galibiervelo | 10 months ago

The commasaire has no hard and fast rules to cover this judgment. The UCI needs  to to make a rule instead of measuring handle bar widths. It will make riders ignore a head impact to regain the peloton.

peted76 | 10 months ago

It seems unjust.. crash, follow procedure, get penalised. Riders should be allowed to draft back up to the bunch in cases of a crash. There should be a mandate for 'common sense' to be utilised. (I know laughable right!)

Rendel Harris | 10 months ago

Don't want to sound wise after the event (but it's so rare I will) but as soon as the UCI introduced concussion checks I said they were going to have either to allow pacing back to the peleton or some form of time adjustment similar to the inside 3kms rule but from further out. Penalising riders after they've been mandatorily stopped for head checks is going to encourage them to hide head injuries and keep riding with concussion, and sooner or later that's going to get somebody killed.

Awavey replied to Rendel Harris | 10 months ago
1 like

I'd agree or set a max time allowed behind the cars, then add time 1:1 mapping time penalties for how long it continues. I dont have a problem with what's happened here in this instance because "thems the rules" and teams&riders do exploit the convoy drafting stuff to their advantage too often

Jimmy Ray Will replied to Awavey | 10 months ago
1 like

I don't think it needs to be anything that complicated. 

If you are in the cars for a medical / mechanical incident use the cars to return to the group you were in. However, if you are there because you are dropped then no cars.

Unless someone is physically holding on to a car, this should always be dealt with by a fine / time penalty. 

The alternative is that we remove following cars altogether... as if pacing isn't allowed, then generally speaking, no one is getting back to a bunch once the racing's started. 

I wonder how a lack of following cars would influence racing. I'm sure different tyre choices would be made, and it may also change the way the bunch operates... people can't afford to crash! 

Awavey replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 10 months ago

Define a medical/mechanical incident such that people who are dropped cant feign them to get back in the bunch.

Remember the controversy last year when people assumed Remco was pulling a technical so as to not drop time on a finish.

If you create a rule as ably demonstrated by the teams approaches to handlebars in the TT, think first of how everyone will exploit it to their gain.

MattieKempy replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 10 months ago
Jimmy Ray Will wrote:


If you are in the cars for a medical / mechanical incident use the cars to return to the group you were in. However, if you are there because you are dropped then no cars.

In the case of a medical incident I'd agree - draft or tow back to the back of the main bunch. Could the benchmark be that you've received treatment at the roadside from the race doctor (not team doctor so as to avoid accusations of nepotism) or had to undergo an assessment?

Mechanicals, I'm afraid, while annoying, should not IMO mean a free ride back to the peloton.

Legin | 10 months ago

The UCI are cocks!

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