Movistar deny Rojas pushed teammates in Volta a Catalunya TTT

Spaniard only 'touched' riders, team says

The Movistar team has denied that Jose Joaquin Rojas pushed his teammates in the Volta a Catalunya team time trial. After being first penalised, Rojas' actions later lost the team the overall lead of the race when the officials reversed the earlier decision to give time penalties only to Rojas, Andrey Amador and Nelson Oliveira, and penalised the entire team one minute.

Amador and Oliveira, arguably stronger time trialists than Rojas, were seen at the back of the Movistar rotation, just ahead of Rojas who placed his hand on each rider's lower back - an action the team claims was simply to inform those riders they needed to take the position in front of Rojas.

"The Movistar Team wants to express its complete disagreement towards the sanction received," the team wrote.

"It's a penalty due to an infringement which we consider absolutely non-existent. The rider performing the action does not "push" his teammates, but touches the back of them with his right hand to warn them that they must take his position into the team row, a fact that doesn't influence the race's outcome at all.

"We deeply regret that a sporting event sees its results distorted by the application of a rule which punishes pushing between teammates, something which, as shown by the images, was not the case yesterday. We consider this sets a dangerous precedent for the future, since any touch between riders from now on will have to be punished."

BMC riders protested the action of Rojas, and after the initial penalties of three minutes for Rojas, two for Amador and one for Oliveira. A late meeting of the race jury tacked on a one minute penalty for the entire team, pushing Valverde out of the jersey and 15th at 58 seconds.

 

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