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Patrick Lefevere was not pleased with the Vuelta a España race jury’s decision to relegate Sam Bennett on stage 9. And, as he so often does, the Deceuninck-Quick-Step team manager made his feelings known in a series of posts on Twitter on Thursday.
Lefevere had initially posted a tweet celebrating what would have apparently been Bennett’s 50th career victory immediately after the stage finished, but his outlook changed after the race jury decided to relegate Bennett for shoving Trek-Segafredo’s Emils Liepins while battling for position in the sprint. After shouldering the 28-year-old Latvian, Bennett wound up his sprint and crossed the line first. Liepins arrived in 13th.
Bennett was then dropped down to 110th in the final standings with Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) declared the winner. Shortly after that decision came down from the Vuelta’s powers that be, Lefevere returned to Twitter to express his displeasure.
His tweet even tagged the @trek handle, which does not appear to belong to anyone connected with Trek Bikes, let alone the Trek-Segafredo team.
He followed that tweet up with another.
Then, Trek-Segafredo manager Luca Guercilena responded to Lefevere’s initial criticism, opining that the decision was a clear one for the jury to make.
To that, Lefevere questioned both Liepins’s track record and Trek’s lead-out prowess. Guercilena, unsurprisingly and also understandably, wondered why that mattered.
Other than retweets, Lefevere closed out his Thursday evening with one last message for the many people who got involved in the discussion on social media.
For his part, the rider who was handed the relegation on the day (Bennett) did not post any post-stage messages on Twitter, and neither did the rider that he shoved (Liepins), leaving the discussion for others.
Lefevere’s latest expression of social media anger comes a little under three months after another overly physical sprint that led to Patrick Lefevere voicing a strong opinion.
On August 6, Deceuninck-Quick-Step’s Fabio Jakobsen was seriously injured when he was driven into the barriers on stage 1 of the Tour of Poland by Jumbo-Visma’s Dylan Groenewegen. Lefevere was on Twitter in the immediate aftermath of that stage calling for Groenewegen to be punished even beyond the disqualification he was handed from the race.
Lefevere called Groenewegen’s sprint a “very dirty move,” and continued to push for legal ramifications in the days after the crash, although he eventually backed away from pushing for Groenewegen to be thrown in jail. Groenewegen was ultimately sidelined by his team and he will end the season without having raced again since.
Of course, this year’s high-profile sprint relegations aren’t the only matters on which Lefevere has taken to Twitter to voice his opinion on over the years. The longtime team manager has rarely shied away from voicing his opinions publicly. Recently, that has also included criticizing the UCI’s request for an investigation into the nature of an unknown object taken out of Remco Evenepoel’s jersey pocket after his crash at Il Lombardia.
Last year, he threatened to pull his team out of the Vuelta a San Juan after organizers disqualified Iljo Keisse after a woman filed a police complaint against him saying he had “grazed her with his genitals” while posing for a photograph with her and his Deceuninck-Quick-Step teammates.