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by Shane Stokes
July 7, 2017
Photography by Cor Vos
Troyes, France (CT) – Finally issuing its ruling two days after the Bora-hansgrohe team appealed Peter Sagan’s disqualification from the Tour de France, the Court of Arbitration for Sport has rejected the action.
It announced the ruling on Thursday afternoon, hours after the team told CyclingTips that it had lodged such an appeal.
“The Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) issued a decision rejecting an urgent request for provisional measures filed by the Slovak cyclist Peter Sagan and the Denk Pro Cycling team in the afternoon of 5 July 2017,” it said in a brief release.
“The rider and team appealed the exclusion of the rider by the UCI Commissaires Panel on 4 July 2017 following an incident during the sprint phase at the end of the 4th stage of the 2017 Tour de France (Mondorf-les-Bains to Vittel).
“Accordingly, Peter Sagan remains disqualified from the 2017 Tour de France.”
Speaking prior to the stage 6 start in Vesoul on Thursday, team press officer Ralph Scherzer told CyclingTips about the action.
“We appealed yesterday morning at the CAS because in the UCI rules, as far as we understood, there is no chance of an official appeal as the penalty was less than 200 Swiss francs,” he said. “Of course there is the possibility to go to CAS, and we hoped that CAS would decide on that case before the start [of stage 5].
“Peter was ready to race. He was not far away. So we just hid him a little to give him some quiet time, but he was there. But CAS unfortunately didn’t decide before the start, so we couldn’t put him on the line. We will still wait for the decision of the CAS.”
Asked if any decision against the Tour jury was purely symbolic, Scherzer disagreed. Indeed, he floated the possibility that the rider could be reinstated, even though he would have missed at least two stages of the race.
“I have no idea what will happen if the CAS says the decision was wrong because there were formal mistakes or anything. Because then it would mean that Peter is allowed to race.
“But how to put him in the race again…I have no idea. You would need to ask the UCI or lawyers or whatever. But officially [after such a decision], then he would be allowed to race.”
Following the CAS decision, this now will not happen. However it is possible the team may take alternative legal routes, seeking financial compensation in the courts for the rider’s exclusion from the race.
The Tour is the biggest platform for sponsors such as Bora and hansgrohe, and not having Sagan in the event means they will get less of a return for their investment. However it remains to be seen if the CAS decision will complicate any such move.
The court has not yet released its reasoned decision, and so it is unclear on what basis the appeal was rejected. Contacted by CyclingTips, Scherzer said that the team would not comment until it receives CAS’ explanation.
In a statement issued prior to the CAS decision, the team laid out its arguments as to why it felt the original decision was wrong.
“The team and Peter Sagan would like to reiterate their position that Peter Sagan did not cause, let alone deliberately, the fall of Mark Cavendish on the last 200m of the fourth stage on July 4, 2017. Peter Sagan stayed on his line and could not see Mark Cavendish on the right side.
“Although the UCI cycling regulations provide unambiguously that it is mandatory to hear a rider before any disciplinary decision is taken (Rule 12.2.006: ‘The Commissaires Panel may judge the matter only if the offending party has had a chance to defend his point of view […]’), Peter Sagan has not been given an opportunity to explain to the ‘Commissaires Panel’ his point of view.
“If the motion to suspend, on which the CAS will have to decide now, is granted, Peter Sagan will immediately re-engage in the Tour and, together with the team Bora – hansgrohe, compete for a successful Tour de France 2017.”
That possibility has now been extinguished, meaning Sagan must wait until next July before aiming for his sixth green jersey.
Speaking after winning stage 6, the day’s winner Marcel Kittel gave his thoughts on the original disqualification.
“The jury took a decision now. Of course there are people who support the decision. There are also people who do not,” he said.
“I see it a little bit like a decision which you have in football. When the referee makes his decision, this is a choice that we have to accept. That is at least what I do.
“I will concentrate now on what I must do and on my racing.”
He added that chasing what would be his first green jersey classification victory is a big goal. Previously he had said that he would only be able to do so if Sagan were out of the race.