It is difficult to assess how huge impact on final results of the current edition of the Giro d’Italia had the confusion created by race organizers via race radio in regards to neutralizing the Stelvio descent. It came as no surprise, however, that the meeting of team managers, sport directors and RCS Sport representatives was held before yesterday’s stage with most of them demanding nullification of time gaps created on the descent.
The 17th stage of the Giro d’Italia kicked off as it was planned, but even though it was suggested that some compromise between team managers, race organizers and UCI was reached, it was also announced that there will be no comments to the press on that matter until the association of teams, the AIGCP, would release an official statement later in the afternoon.
It was later explained that all teams eventually requested neutralization of time gaps at the bottom of the Stelvio descent, but it was denied by the UCI with time differences remaining unchanged.
As there is no official website of the AIGCP, the official statement was published on its facebook profile in yesterday’s afternoon. Since some of team managers, like Jim Ochowicz of BMC Racing, were still unaware that the AIGCP statement has been already released, they refused to share any comment on that matter.
"We agreed not to communicate about it apart from AIGCP representatives," Ochowicz said. "Whatever was written is what the position is, but we’re not commenting on it."
An the same time, however, Trek Factory Racing manager Luca Guercilena and Omega Pharma-QuickStep directeur sportif Davide Bramati – whose rider Rigoberto Uran was the biggest victim of the confusion created by Giro d’Italia organizers as he lost leader’s jersey as a consequence, took part in the programme on RAI television.
"The communication was wrong and liable to be misunderstood," Guercilena said of the message that was relayed on race radio atop the Stelvio, adding that the impromptu measure of having motorbikes with red flags lead the way on the descent was not catered for by existing regulations. "The safety bike is not in the UCI rules."
"Race radio was unequivocal," Martinelli said. "The radio information was exactly what was said and there’s no other interpretation. Either that, or Italian isn’t Italian anymore."
Martinelli also made it clear that even though it couldn’t be ruled out that Uran would have lost the pink jersey to Quintana anyway, the time gaps on that stage would have been different and it’s hard to predict how the action would develop on the final ascent.
"Yesterday, if Quintana had started the climb with the other favourites, he would never have had four minutes of an advantage. That’s the truth. It would never have happened. Never," Martinelli said.
"If Quintana had attacked on the final climb, Uran could have responded, or Aru. He might still have won, but not by four minutes, that’s for sure."
The full AIGCP statement:
Following this morning's team managers meeting in Sarnonico, at the start of the 17th stage of the Giro d'Italia, a delegation of the AIGCP met with RCS and the UCI commissaires. On behalf of ALL teams, the AIGCP has specifically demanded a neutralisation of the time differences at the bottom of the descent of the Stelvio of yesterdays stage. The UCI has declined this demand and stated that the results would remain unchanged. Putting procedures above fair-sportsmanship is simply unacceptable and very disappointing. In respect to the fans and cycling as a whole, teams decided to start the stage.
In bike races, teams depend on the information provided by 'Radio Tour', from which the essential information is being forwarded by two-way radio's to the riders. In difficult conditions, this flow of information becomes even more important. Therefore, the information should be consistent, clear and should not leave any doubt. Teams should rely on that all information should have the consent of the UCI chief commissaire. Yesterday, when the circumstances were the most difficult, the quality of the information went below the minimum level.
Following the crucial announcement, both the organiser and the commissaires remained absent to correct the situation, where there was still enough time to do so. When asked by the AIGCP, the UCI commissaires have specifically denied to have heard the instructions 'not to attack in the descent' broadcasted on Radio Tour…
In order to have fair cycling, teams need a regulator that applies the rules in a transparent, consistent and fair way. The complete absence of the ability to regulate the race to correct the mistakes, lead to a significant influence on the results in the race yesterday and until the end of the Giro. That should never happen.
The AIGCP is open to discuss with all stakeholders in order to raise the level of regulation during bike races.
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