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by Shane Stokes
February 23, 2015
Speaking in the wake of the rider protests which eventually led to the neutralisation of the penultimate stage of the Tour of Oman, Eddy Merckx said that some teams involved could see their invitations revoked in next year’s edition.
On Saturday sandstorms caused the start of the 151 stage from Al Sawadi Beach to the Ministry of Housing to be cancelled, with the riders being transported to a new point prior to the flag being dropped.
However strong winds continued to make things nervous and when extreme heat caused some teams’ tyres to explode, the riders wheeled to a halt under the shade of a large bridge and said they would not race.
Trek Factory Racing directeur sportif Dirk Demol summed up the mood. “[It] was simply incredible, and when the peloton stopped in the shade under the big bridge tires were exploding from the heat.
“[It] was the right decision to cancel the race – all the riders were united in the decision and agreed to not race. I feel sorry for the organization, it was a pity, but there was no way to race in that kind of heat.”
The remainder of the stage was neutralised.
Merckx, who is involved in the race organisation, said after the stage that the race might not continue in the future.
He then met with the minister for sports prior to Sunday’s final stage and confirmed that the race would go ahead next year.
However he suggests there may be repercussions.
“They have informed me that they will consider not inviting a few teams after the action of yesterday,” he said, according to De Telegraaf.
Merckx did not name names, but the Dutch newspaper points out that Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep) and Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) were two who were prominent in the discussions about neutralising the remainder of the stage.