Jury decided over victory

In the aftermath of Wednesday's final stage of the Eneco Tour of Benelux, which determined the...

In the aftermath of Wednesday's final stage of the Eneco Tour of Benelux, which determined the overall winner in a particular way, Stefan Schumacher and George Hincapie have maintained their versions of what had happened. The Gerolsteiner rider insisted that he had not swerved during the sprint on purpose, but was forced to deviate because of a spectator, while the angry Discovery rider blamed the race jury for not taking the right decision.

"I was in Schumacher's wheel to get second," Hincapie told Belgian media. "I can't believe I'm not winning the race. Stefan told me that he didn't want to win this way. They (Gerolsteiner) should have told that to the jury. It's not right."

Schumacher, who took four tiny bonus seconds in the sprint and therefore the overall classification by just one second, insisted he was not at fault that Hincapie crashed. "I couldn't do anything about it!," he said. "If I hadn't deviated to the right, I would have gone down. With 200 metres to go, I started my sprint on the left side of the road, then I was hit by a spectator. I lost my balance completely and couldn't sprint through, that's why Manuele Mori passed me. After the finish line, I didn't think of the overall victory - all I could think of was not to crash."

Discovery Channel's directeur sportif Dirk Demol said it would have been the responsibility of the jury to attribute victory differently - not only because of Hincapie's crash, but also because of events that occurred one week ago. "George was robbed twice this week," the Belgian insisted when speaking to the Telegraaf. "On the TV images of the prologue you can clearly see that Schumacher started at least one second too soon. If it hadn't been for that second, George would surely have won. Member of the jury Martin Bruin confirmed this to Hincapie last Sunday during the doping control. This one second is now very precious... In this case, the jury should have called all the concerned parties together to decide what to do. We will complain to the UCI about this."

Jury president Bruno Valcic did not agree. "Then they should have sent out a complaint at that time," the Croatian said. "And not one week later. We can't change anything about the prologue now. But I can assure you that nobody started too early."

The final winner, Stefan Schumacher, meanwhile understood Discovery Channel's anger. "It's not pleasant to win this way," he said. "I understand that it must be more painful for Hincapie." Yet on the arguments forwarded by Demol, he added, "Let's remain serious. That was one week ago. It's ridiculous to go on about that now."

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