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Listen, I’m going to keep this short, because I may or may not be starting a World Championship tomorrow (can’t let you lot narrow my identity down to a mere 200 riders now, can I). I sent this in because I couldn’t take it anymore.
What Nils Eekhoff did was completely normal.
In case you missed it, somehow, here’s what went down. Nils crashed, I think into a car. He had a hurt shoulder and a mechanical, so it took a while to get going again. By the time he did, the race caravan was long gone. His coach, in a car, drafted him back up to the field.
It took about two minutes, apparently. Here’s a video:
Two minutes seems like a long time, particularly when you’re watching a boring video like that. Lots of people who maybe thought Nils got screwed last night, when the UCI said the drafting time was under a minute, suddenly thought the jury made the right call.
According to the rules, which are really vague, I guess they did. But according to every pro bike race I’ve ever been in, they didn’t.
Two minutes is not a long time. I’ve drafted behind cars for way longer with no penalty. So has pretty much everyone.
If he’d been warned by a moto commissaire or something, then OK, you have to stop. But he wasn’t, at least not that I can tell.
The reality is that sitting on a car is your only option if you’re off the back of the caravan. The back of the caravan is only a minute or so long, most of the time. So what the UCI is saying with this ruling, basically, is that if a crash or mechanical puts you more than a minute behind, you might as well just stop. You’re done. Particularly if you don’t have an entire team to come back and get you.
I saw former pro Dan Lloyd Tweet something I agree with. If the UCI enforced this at a Grand Tour, you’d have half the peloton gone after one week. Other pros are saying the same. I’m not alone here. We all think it’s a stupid ruling.
It’s not that the UCI jury was wrong, according to the rules. They just ignored how bike races actually work.
I don’t know whose fault that is, but Nils should be world champ.