Three riders were disqualified from the Tour of Utah after holding onto their team vehicles for too long during stage four.
Juraj Sagan, Darren Lapthorne and Andrea Palini were all disqualified after being seen holding on to their team vehicles in an attempt to catch up with the peloton. The three riders had been dropped on the first climb of the day.
However these weren't the only three people to be eliminated, the riders Team Directors were also disqualified. Sagan's Cannondale director Mattia Michelusi, Lapthorne's Drapac director Jonathan Breekveldt and Palini's Lampre-Merida director Carlo Guardascone had to pay the same price as their cyclists.
Toughest stage race
The Tour of Utah is supposed to be America's toughest stage race due to all the climbs and the president of the commissaires panel admitted the tough terrain can lead to cyclists using their team vehicles to help them up the climbs.
Adrien Levesque said, according to Cycling News: “A race is won with your legs, not with the help of team vehicles. We just applied the regulation as it's always been there. There's nothing new there.”
“It's always an issue we see on climbs. Whether it's more at this race, I would say no. It's a very difficult race, it's a beautiful race. Given the opportunity to make the time cut or not, riders are going to make their own decisions and live by the consequences.”
An offensive maneuver
You see lots of riders during races using the team cars to help them catch up with peloton as the speed of the vehicles can make them go faster and use less energy but it is an offence that you can punished for.
It doesn't seem to happen often but it is technically a way of cheating as you can go faster whilst staying behind a car.
Chris Horner believes the rules can be bended a bit more in European races and it is likely riders will get a warning before disqualification.
The Lampre-Merida team leader said: “Normally the difference is that in Europe if you were to grab onto the car you would get a warning or two. Our guy was sick. There's always a reason for someone to be back there.
"They are either sick or hurt or injured, or they've had a flat tire or something to be off of the gruppetto. Everyone here can ride in the gruppetto, especially on my team. They are all of that kind of quality. So they're either sick, hurt, injured or flat.
'The officials were fair'
“It's not the wrong thing to do. That's the rule, so the officials are fair. I mean there's nothing wrong with that. It's fair. But we are used to a little bit more bending of the rules than that, and so we just expected because our guy hadn't been able to eat all day that they'd get a warning or two before there would be a problem.
"So it's not a big, big ordeal. In Europe they're a little easier with that sort of thing because they understand how much suffering we're doing each day to get to the finish.”
The dilemma officials face is that they have to draw the line between trying to see if someone is cheating or just ill. In my opinion it is cheating to hold on to the team vehicle but I tend to agree with Horner that it is likely his team-mate was just ill and needed some help.