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José Joaquín Rojas (Movistar Team)
Movistar rider claims no advantage from drafting on Tourmalet
After being kicked out of the Tour de France for prolonged sheltering behind his team car, José Joaquín Rojas (Movistar) has declared the decision by the race jury as "unjust" and stated he had no advantage from sheltering behind his team car while descending the Col du Tourmalet on stage 18.
"I have gone from surprise to outrage and indignation to not understand anything. At no time have I grabbed onto the car nor received any benefit in the descent from the Tourmalet. It would be impossible to hang onto cars while descending a mountain at 80 kilometers per hour. Climbing, I would understand, but [descending], it would be stupid and reckless. It is true that I could benefit a while from the slipstream of the cars, as we all do it every day, but that is not enough to expel a rider. If they applied the same standard in every case, there would be no riders left in Paris."
Rojas says that by the time he was climbing the Tourmalet, his team leader Alejandro Valverde was already away in a group with 30 riders or so, with teammates ahead. He had done his work for the day and was just riding his own pace to finish the stage.
"I was not going to dispute anything or defend any classification. I would have understood that if I held onto the car they might impose a penalty or a fine, as happens a thousand times in any race, but they expel me three days before the finish? I just don't understand it. It was very unfair."
The sprinter has never been disqualified from a race in his nine years as a professional, and said the decision hurts. "I have always raced in a sporting and professional manner. It cost me a lot to reach the Tour in good condition because I had to recover from two injuries. To be kicked out of the race three days from the end for drafting off cars on a descent, I think sincerely that it is an injustice."