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September 26, 2017
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  • double A

    im glad they caught this. i watched it on the TV and had to replay on the PVR just to ensure i wasn’t seeing something. it was absolutely blatant and he likely never would have even made it back to the lead group had it not been for the lift. expulsion should be the result; leaving him in the race just allows ASTANA to continue to receive coverage and sponsorship advertising. how many more chances can that team get this year?

  • Kramon

    Firenze 2013. #déjavu

    Only this time sanctioned…

  • Cameron Fraser

    well that seems a bit blatant

    • santiagobenites

      Totally! Such a dumb move.

  • Andrew Wilson

    Astana Team Manager: “‘I saw the video, I know what we did!’ added Martinelli…’It happens in the Tour, I’ve seen it a thousand times. Try to find me an honest person in the peloton. Any sports director would have done the same thing to save their leader.’”

    That right there tells you everything you need to know about the management culture of Astana. No change. The team needs to go.

    • Aaron McNany

      Well said.

    • Simon Kenny

      Except that he’s right. If this had been a French team in the Tour, there would have been no penalty at all.

      • Andrew Wilson

        Sticky bottles are common, sure. Whatever. Gotta hang in there, catch a small break. This wasn’t a sticky bottle. This was mechanical doping and massively gapping your group. *Slight* difference.

        • Notso Swift

          Agree more than a professional foul, that was more than your average Madison practice…

      • Dave


        A rider on a French team was disqualified from this year’s Tour de France for getting a lift for less than 100 metres up to where his team car was waiting to give him service. And it was a rider in the grupetto too, not a contender.

        • Jessy Vee

          Yeah, but he actually GOT INTO a car and then decided to get out. It wasn’t even his team car, if I remember correctly. That’s even more blatant than holding onto a vehicle. Not even the French could look past that.

          One might wonder whether Nibs would have been disqualified if it was the Giro, not the Vuelta. OR if he would have been disqualified had a large number of riders not complained (see the large group that was with him just before he was whisked away) – possibly a big contributing factor.

    • jules

      “guys, what you saw me do today out there in giving Vincenzo a lift was wrong. I want you to know that cheating is not OK and I want to apologise to the team. We at Astana do not tolerate breaking the rules – whether those applying to hanging on to cars, doping, or anything else.”

      I reckon that’s probably how the discussion went at that evening’s dinner, more or less.

      • Andrew Wilson

        Haha, one can dream, right?

    • Puma

      Agree. And how idiotic you have to be to do that with the chopper on top of you. It’s Nibali, chasing the peloton, angry, riding over everybody. The camera will be on him full time. Astana is under probation, they keep doing it. Watching the guy flying today, I couldn’t help thinking about the engine thing. Again, they can’t be so stupid by giving him the moto-bike, but if one team will be first, it’s going to be this one.

    • Michele

      Spot on Andrew.
      Could also explain why Astana have had a spate of doping violations in the past 12-15 months. Matinelli reckons everyone is on the juice. He’s seen it a thousand times before.
      Astana just unlucky to caught with the +ve tests or getting a tow by a car.
      Nothing to see here, more on lads. :)

    • Uggi Kaldan

      You mean kick the team because their DS is stupid enough tog tell the truth?

      • Andrew Wilson

        More than that – pull the license and let the team fall apart. I’m sure there are clean riders on the team, but when the management culture openly defends cheating, it’s likely the management and therefore the team/organization itself (not necessarily the riders) who are beyond repair. Bad root = bad apples.

        • Uggi Kaldan

          Getting a little tired of the Astana Banting.

          There´s doping on ALL the pro teams!

          In fact theres doping in all pro sports.

          It´s just how it is – Im all for testing and I hope as many as possible get caught – BUT – if you want to start banning teams and sports for having “bad roots” – just close down pro sports. The gains are too big, and the chance of being caught, way to little.

          By any logic standard – people will cheat when you can win big money cheating with little chance of getting caught – not everyone – but there will always be cheaters, not just on Astana.

          If you don´t like it – perhaps it´s time to stop watching pro sports.

  • Treadlie rider

    Good on the jury. Great decision. Hopefully it might make others think first. Shows they are not messing around in this tour as others in Italy and France do. Suck shit Astana, you deserve it.

  • Evan Dix

    Such irony! Nibble was asked about his “Feud with Froome” leading in to the Vuelta and said:

    “We haven’t seen each other since the Tour. There are lots of incidents in races, and what happens in the race stays in the race,” Nibali said, adding: “At the time, I preferred not to mention it, but in 2010 Froome was excluded from the Giro for being towed by a car.”


    • Marcus Mendez

      karma is a b%tch

    • astromo

      Love how memories are long when the stakes are high and the culprits are desperate. Nice pick up on Froome but in that case the report here:
      indicates that his error/cheating would have had pretty close to zero effect on the result. In any case, he got flicked.

      Unlike Nibali though, Froome appeared to cop it sweet rather than blame everyone he could possibly think of. So, history has had the last laugh in this case.

  • greg walmsley 446 @gmail.com

    Pathetic attitude ,When Is It OK To Cheat?

  • Chris Riordan

    Seems pretty harsh, Nibali was flying and the video footage really isn’t conclusive as to whether the car was towing Nibali…or as I suspect Nibali was towing the car.

    • jules

      good point we’re all assuming Nibali was hanging onto the bottle, but how do we know it wasn’t his swannie?

      • Michele

        There’s also a possibility he wasn’t even holding onto a bottle Jules …
        Maybe he was just having a conversation with his DS and was trying to determine what the time gaps were??

        • jules

          Yep.. I do it all the time. Divert attention from the road and my foot drops on the loud pedal :)

      • Dave

        Or his twin brother.

    • Saftey First

      I suspect Nibali’s arm got caught on the car, maybe on the drivers huge
      expensive watch, then to not interfere with the chasing peloton did not
      stop but instead sped up to keep the peloton safe from any auto vs
      cyclist accidents as we’ve seen this year. Great job of Nibali to stay
      upright under such high speed under the circumstances and the power!
      Hopefully we can get the SRM data to show how he saved the day

    • DSC

      Nibbles is NOT thejensie…

  • Jessy Vee

    I’m a bit shocked by this news, but I’m OK with it. I only wish that the sport was a bit more consistent in their dealing with certain rules and regulations. I fear that if this was another rider who was not so popular for GC and didn’t happen to have a camera and race attention on him at the time, it would have been ignored. But then you could argue that his profile made it easy for commissars to get video evidence to back up their decision. It stinks, though… Unfortunate for the rider who may not have had any say in how fast the team car pulled him along. Does it make it OK to hold on to a car to ensure you don’t lose time? No, certainly not. But I feel the race will be less exciting because of his Nibs expulsion.

    • jules

      he could have let go. that is one hell of an acceleration and I can’t imagine the driver didn’t warn Nibbles to hold on tight.

      you’re right that it’s been going on for years though.. early Tours were marred by riders taking train rides, and I recall Lemond accusing Fignon of holding on in ’89 while they battled for the yellow jersey, to name but a couple of instances.

      • Jessy Vee

        I had friends at the Tour this year, and, oh the stories they could tell. After all of those big crashes, there were many MANY instances on riders holding onto team/media cars in an attempt to get home before the time cutoff. One of my friends took a snap of two riders holding onto a car and another holding onto one of the riders attached to the car. They weren’t high profile riders, but nobody said ‘boo’ about that. I guess that’s my main gripe.

        What about Cancellara being pushed home by his team mates after crashing? Surely he should have been disqualified in that instance (yes, even though he was going to pull out, but disqualification would have seen him not get onto the podium that night to receive the yellow jersey…)

        I don’t know… it just seems that this ‘at judges discretion’ thing is a bit bullshit.

        • jules

          the problem there is partly the finishing time limit. they need to come up with something better that allows for riders who have suffered misfortune to finish and continue a tour, without having to hang on to team cars. cycling has always been a sport that has been difficult to govern with strict rules, in the same way you can govern a game of football. there are practicalities out on the road that if officials took a strict line on, would arguably detract from the sporting value (e.g. turn a blind eye to chasing back through the team cars). so I’m kind of not 100% convinced on dispensing with judges’ discretion – but in Nibali’s case yesterday, certainly neither discretion nor a strict interpretation of the rules would save him.

          • Jessy Vee

            Agreed… It almost feels like they need to have a full overhaul of the current rules if they want to get serious enforcing them. Some are just ridiculous!

            But in the case of Nibali, was disqualification too harsh, then? Would a 10-20min time penalty have been a better punishment? Or would that still be unfair because it would allow him to effect the overall classification by helping his team mates even if it meant that he, himself was out of the running?

            • jules

              I’ve always found the double standard of cycling rules bemusing. In football, there are rules. If you strike another player in the head, there is a penalty – it’s a breach of the rules. In cycling, if you breach the rules, you are more likely to be accused of cheating and even disqualified in entirety. I don’t think we’ve really thought it through properly.

              Having said that, Nibali’s actions were, in my view, at the extreme/blatant end of the spectrum. Yes, possibly a big time penalty would have been an option. But I think disqualification was not unreasonable, given the pre-meditated, deliberate nature of the act.

              • Jessy Vee

                I’ve decided I have no more sympathy for Nibali after his ‘official statement’ (http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/nibali-left-abandoned-by-astana-at-vuelta-a-espana/)… “The 2014 Tour de France winner posted a defiant but apologetic message on his Facebook page and also spoke to La Gazzetta dello Sport. In the Italian sports newspaper, he blamed Caleb Ewan of Orica-GreenEdge for the crash that left several riders injured and also pointed the finger at hisAstana team, suggesting that he was ‘abandoned’ after the crash.”

                I don’t like people who point fingers at others. :(

                • david__g

                  His statement is funny (and obviously a post-expulsion bullshit excuse) because he says he did it, expecting a time penalty. Then why do it? He wasn’t in danger of missing the time cut, was he?

          • Dave

            “they need to come up with something better that allows for riders who have suffered misfortune to finish and continue a tour,”

            Riders who finish outside of the time limit can be reinstated by a decision of the chief commissaire and the race director, but they get a penalty in the points classification equal to the same number of points as the stage win carried. From memory, this once allowed Mark Cavendish to stay in the Tour de France and take further stage wins, but it also took him (quite rightly, in my opinion) out of contention for the green jersey.


            “cycling has always been a sport that has been difficult to govern with strict rules, in the same way you can govern a game of football.”

            But rules aren’t “strict” in any football code either. You can only say for sure that a rule has been broken and a free kick should be awarded once the umpire has decided that it is so – just like cycling with its commissaires.

            In fact, every football code on the planet gives its match officials at least as much discretion as cycling commissaires get. Were a soccer referee assessing Nibali’s tow yesterday, they would have had four options – calling for play to continue, awarding a free kick, issuing a yellow card or issuing a red card.


            “but in Nibali’s case yesterday, certainly neither discretion nor a strict interpretation of the rules would save him.”

            As in almost all sports, a rule breach in cycling doesn’t exist until the commissaires decide that an offence has taken place – the only exceptions I can think of are where technology rules on breaches, such as false starts in athletics and swimming. Cycling commissaires do have the discretion to choose not to investigate the allegation of a rule breach, or to find a breach did happen and discharge it with a warning/reprimand instead of a penalty – but to do either with Nibali would not have been remotely appropriate as it was ridiculously blatant.


            “Yes, possibly a big time penalty would have been an option.”

            Not under that rule, the only penalty for breaching it is disqualification – the UCI’s table of penalties is not really any different to the disciplinary codes used by most other sports. Given that it involves a cyclist taking liberties with the very definition of completing the race, I’m not sure this is something which should be a huge priority to revisit until after certain other issues of the sport are sorted out.

        • Michele

          I’m not doubting your friends Jessy Vee .. so don’t take this the wrong way.
          But with every Thom, Dick and Harry on the side of a road recoding the peloton going past them, I’m surprised we don’t see more footage of riders doing this.
          All the more so since they’re likely to be getting a tow on the climbs, where the fans hang out most.
          I’m seen a couple of YouTube clips … just surprised we don’t see more.

          • John_Irvine

            Indeed. Not just more spectators getting video footage, but a lot more sharing of that and official footage. Hard for judges not to rule when there is widely circulated evidence of obvious cheating.

            • Dave

              But the commissaires can decide that riders struggling to the finish after getting hacked up in a crash can have their infringements dealt with by a warning or reprimand instead of a penalty.

  • gusk

    Maybe it was his hidden onboard motor?

    • jules

      the massive drop in Kazakh currency value last week meant Astana were forced to roll out their low budget model

  • velocite

    Valcic was quoted in CN as saying it was a ‘tough decision’. In view of the blatant nature of the offence, why should the decision have been tough – that is assuming that the rules actually are clear, that disqualification is the penalty? I don’t recall anyone saying it was a tough decision to penalize Porte 2′ in the Giro for accepting a wheel from Clarke in the Giro, and that was a case where the rules looked like an ass.

    • Dave

      For this offence, there are no other options for the commissaires that sit anywhere between a warning (all offences can be discharged with warnings if the commissaires choose to do so) and a disqualification.

      Go to page 12 of http://www.uci.ch/mm/Document/News/Rulesandregulation/16/26/68/12-DIS-20150101-E_English.pdf

      The 2′ penalty for Porte was also the applicable penalty – I assume it was not talked about at the Giro because the chief commissaire knew better than to shoot his mouth off for the media.

      • velocite

        Ah, thanks for that link, always better to have a clue! But..not sure I understand the Porte infringement. I thought it might be “Cheating, attempted cheating, collusion between riders of different teams”, in which case the penalty is given as “200 + 10’ penalty + elimination for offence during last stage”. I surmise that it’s only the ‘elimination’ bit that applies to the last stage – not much point in a time penalty if you’re being eliminated. Am I looking in the wrong place?

        • Dave

          That rule certainly could have been used but the commissaires went for the ‘irregular assistance’ rule which comes in at 8.2 on the table of penalties – 200CHF plus 2′ on GC for a first offence.

          Clarke could certainly have been docked an extra ten seconds for pushing.

    • Allez Rouleur

      I think it was tough because the guy is a former Vuelta winner and in contention this year. Kicking out pack fodder, not a big deal, kicking out a former winner = a bigger deal.

  • pedr09

    I think the most likely explanation of this is that the team car hooks Nib’s bars and for the next few hundred metres, Nibs is desperately trying to unhook them. I’m sure that’s what we would have seen if the chopper was filming from the other side….

  • dfb

    I remember the days when the team car used to get the sticky bottle FROM Jensie, so that they could get back to the peleton.

  • Derek Maher

    Pity Vincenzo is out of the Vuelta.I shall miss his attacking style which added some flair to a race.
    I guess its up to Aru and maybe Landa to keep Astana in the hunt.

  • Daniel

    For the credibility of the sport, he needed to be booted. It was simply too egregious a breach to be waived away. It just doesn’t pass the pub test, and it makes the sport a bit of a joke.

    The lack of consistency in the application of the rules, however, is also a blight upon the credibility of the sport. I seem to recall Aru suffering up a climb in the Giro, after being dropped by Contador, taking a sticky bottle (or it may have been a gel) for a few seconds, then launching the bottle without even pretending to have a drink. I don’t recall anything coming of that one…

    • Dave

      I recall he got a reprimand for that.


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