Almost two weeks on from his dramatic disqualification from the Tour de France, Peter Sagan [Bora-Hansgrohe] says that he's unable to accept the decision made the race jury. The World Champion was sent packing from the race following a crash with Mark Cavendish in the finale of stage 4.
With no racing until the end of the month, Sagan has had plenty of time to muse upon the ruling while at home in Monaco. Speaking to Belgian television channel VTM, Sagan said that while he has come to terms with the fact that he's no longer in the race, but he calls the decision itself a "mistake."
"For sure I did some analysis. I can accept that I’m out of the race, but I can't accept the decision that the jury made. It's just a big mistake I think," Sagan told reporter Merijn Casteleyn.
Following the incident, Sagan initially had points docked from his tally in the green jersey competition and was relegated in the stage. However, a protest from Cavendish's Dimension Data squad came and the jury reconsidered their decision. Around two hours after the stage had finished, the head of the jury Philippe Marien walked into the pressroom to announce that Sagan had been disqualified for endangering another rider.
While Dimension Data had their say on the initial ruling, Sagan says that he was never consulted in the decision making process.
"I want to say, I'm out of the race, but the jury never spoke to me. They never asked for an explanation," he said. "They just said that I did wrong and I was violent. That is bad, to say that I'm violent when you didn't do anything wrong.
"This I don't accept, because I didn't do something wrong."
Bora-Hansgrohe did attempt to appeal the ruling with the Court of Arbitration for Sport [CAS], but it was to no avail and the disqualification stood. Sagan's dismissal was not the last furore that the race jury would find themselves in throughout this year's Tour de France. Following stage 12, they handed out 20-second penalties to GC riders Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) and George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo). However, they did not give Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) a penalty, despite committing the same infraction.
After digging their heels in and resolutely saying that there would be no walk back of the decision, they did just that and took away the seconds added to Uran and Bennett's overall times. Asked by Casteleyn if there was room for improvement for the race jury, Sagan said yes, but it could only happen if they were willing.
"If somebody wants some improvement then that is important. There is always space to be better, if somebody wants to be better. It is difficult. I just don't see in cycling and other things we don't have someone who can protect us, the riders."
Sagan will return to racing at the Tour de Pologne on July 29, before the BinckBank Tour on August 7, as he prepares to defend his world title.