La Vuelta 2020 - Froome leads protests as riders threaten Vuelta revolt over 'unfair' time gaps
The cyclists at La Vuelta delayed the start of Stage 11 to voice their displeasure with the time gaps awarded on Stage 10 that saw the leader's jersey change from Richard Carapaz of Ineos Grenadiers to Primoz Roglic of Jumbo-Visma. Many of the teams were unhappy that the race organisers made a change to how the stage's time gaps were judged after the race had been ridden.
Chris Froome at the Team Presentation / during the 75th Tour of Spain 2020, Stage 11 a 170km stage from Villaviciosa to Alto de La Farrapona. Lagos de Somiedo 1708m / @lavuelta / #LaVuelta20 / La Vuelta / on October 31, 2020 in Alto de La Farrapona. Lagos
'The Incredible Hulk you could say!' - Watch Roglic's brilliant win in Stage 10
The root of the riders' complaints is that the time gaps awarded on the stage were judged on different criteria from what race organisers had initially suggested.
Teams had been told that Stage 10 was to be treated with the mass sprint stage protocol. On such a stage groups of riders are only considered to be separate if there is a gap of over three seconds between the last rider of the first group and the first rider of the second group. If gaps between groups are smaller then all riders are awarded the same time. In a stage without the mass sprint protocol then that required gap reduces to one second rather than three.
The ruling was brought in to make bunch sprints safer and allow general classification contenders and support riders to drop back slightly and remove the risk of crashes. And on Friday teams were told that the stage would be raced with the three-second rule at the finish.
However, after Primoz Roglic's win the race organisers implemented a one-second gap rule, meaning there were greater time losses for a number of riders - Richard Carapaz lost three seconds and Hugh Carthy ten, for example. And the riders protesting say that the race would have been ridden differently had the race organisers made that decision at the start rather than retrospectively.
Michael Woods - 'The UCI made a mistake, you can't change time gap rules on a whim'
"It was a mistake on the UCI’s part and the commissaires part," Michael Woods of EF Pro Cycling said.
"They initially said at the start of the stage it was going to be a three-second gap instead of a one-second gap. Looking at the finish it should have been a one-second gap, but that’s what they said at the start. But at the finish they changed their mind.
I don’t think that’s fair, I don’t think you can just change the rules on a whim. Because that alters how we would have raced.
"Obviously Hugh (Carthy) would have been more aggressive running into the finish, trying to get further up in position just so he wouldn’t have to make up for those time gaps, his support would have gone harder to close up a gap. If you’re going to change the rules like that it changes how you would have raced.
"We’ve been talking with the CPA in terms of trying to put up a protest. I think everyone’s on board including Jumbo-Visma, even though they wouldn’t benefit from this ruling.
"It’s such a tight GC battle and you look at the way Primoz Roglic and Richard Carapaz are riding, and even the way Hugh beside me and Dan Martin are riding, it’s really tight. You’re going to see tight time gaps I think, so three seconds, ten seconds, that’s going to be a difference maker for sure."
Jumbo Visma were the team with most to lose from a successful appeal, however Roglic's team-mate George Bennett say the team supported the principle of the protest.
George Bennett - 'Jumbo-Visma support the GC protest even if it means we lose the red jersey'
"We’re waiting to see exactly what happens, there’s a bit of unrest about the decision," he said.
"We’re supporting the decision, it should have been a three-second rule. That shouldn’t change much, but it has almost changed who has the responsibility in the race, it’s weird.
"I’m not thinking about it too much, I’ve got a radio and I get told what to do, I’ve just got to be there for the stage. Ultimately my job doesn’t change much either way, I’ve got to be there with Primoz for the final climb.
I heard from Ineos that there were some guys wanting to protest. We agree, they said it was a three-second rule so it should have been a three-second rule. And if that means we don’t get the jersey then we don’t.
"We agree that they should have stuck by the rules that they said, because even guys like Hugh Carthy lost ten seconds and he was only one second off my group."
The UCI confirmed on Saturday afternoon that the results given will stand, rejecting the appeal.