Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) caused a stir on Stage 14 at the Giro d’Italia after appearing to flout the rules during a bike change.
The Spaniard was 10th in the general classification ahead of Saturday’s run from Santena to Torino, but soon found himself among the chasers after the peloton was ripped to shreds by Bora-hansgrohe.
Amid the fight to claw back time, Valverde was spotted peeling off from his group and immediately hopping on a bike that was waiting for him from a team car parked on the side of the road.
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However, cycling regulations dictate that riders must wait for mechanical assistance from a car behind them on the road, fuelling suggestions he could face action from the race organisers.
“Oh he’s got a problem, looks like he’s going to have a bike change. That can’t…” stuttered Dan Lloyd as he tried to digest it all.
“I’m not sure you’re allowed to do that. I’m not sure you’re allowed to place a car in front to then suddenly give you a bike.”
Filippo Ganna was disqualified from the Tour de la Provence in February for an illegal bike change during the final stage.
It was not immediately clear if Valverde had definitely broken the rules, given the UCI’s response to Ganna’s breach referenced "circuits". Stage 14 featured two undulating and punishing loops around Turin.
“Mechanical assistance at fixed locations on the course is limited to wheel changes only except for races on a circuit where bike changes can be made in the authorized zones,” was mentioned in the Ganna ruling, as reported by cycling journalist Kit Nicholson.
Regardless of any action, Valverde's hopes of the maglia rosa evaporated on Saturday after failing to bridge across to a select group of favourites.
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