Eduardo Sepúlveda (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) was disqualified from the Tour de France on stage 14 after breaking his chain with 23km to go and getting a brief lift from the AG2R La Mondiale team car.
The gradient was so steep where Sepúlveda broke down that he struggled to walk in his cycling shoes and cleats, and while he awaited the arrival of his team car, he was helped out by AG2R. Vincent Lavenu, the AG2R team manager explained: "We saw Eduardo Sepúlveda by the roadside therefore we pulled over in order to give him a spare wheel. Then he opened the car's door and sat on the back seat. He was totally panicking. We only drove about 100 meters with him on board. We respect the Tour's rules but it was unnecessary to expel him from the competition. I feel sorry for him."
The Argentinean was deeply apologetic after the race, admitting he made a big mistake. "I want to apologize to my teammates, who had shown me great confidence in the Tour; Emmanuel Hubert and all the staff; to the Bretagne-Séché Environnement team partners. To all my Argentine fans also living the Tour through me.
"I understand that everyone is very disappointed with what happened. I lack experience, it's my first Tour, and I have been under a great deal of stress. This was the case in the final today, and when I broke my chain and I do not see my car coming, I panicked, it's true.
"I saw the car of [Bretagne-Séché Environnement director] Emmanuel Hubert stop a little earlier, and I made the very bad decision of getting into the AG2R-La Mondiale car. This was a huge mistake. But I do not want anyone to think of me as a cheater. To be disqualified from my first Tour de France, it is the worst nightmare for me."
Emmanuel said the team would not contest the decision of the commissaires. "Eduardo committed a major infraction, he violated the regulation that clearly states an exclusion from the race for this type of offense. But its application is very severe in context. Eduardo was in a panic, we can not explain it any other way. I missed him when he stopped on the right, he was hidden by the other cars.
"I immediately understood what was going on when I saw the commissioners involved. I want to thank all those who sent messages of sympathy tonight. Laurent Jalabert said on the air, on France 2, he found the 'unfair' decision. We are all unhappy and thinking of our sponsors who were so happy to see us racing every day in this Tour de France. In their name and those of the whole team, I also present our apologies to the organizers, ASO, who trusted us since last year."
Nibali says £500 and sunglasses stolen from hotel
Vincenzo Nibali says his day at the Tour de France got off to a bad start when he returned to his hotel room from breakfast and discovered £500 and a pair of sunglasses he wore in last year’s Tour victory were missing.
"Someone entered my room today looking for something in my suitcase and took 500 euros and a pair of sunglasses," Nibali told reporters before the stage 14 start.
Nibali’s Astana team said they would file a police report after the stage from Rodez to Mende.
Nibali apparently hasn't lost his sense of humour, however; USA Today reported that when asked by a reporter whether Nibali's teammate and roommate Michele Scarponi was to blame, Nibali laughed and said, "As a matter of fact, his suitcase was a little messed up too, but in his case nothing was taken."
A prized pair of Vincenzo Nibali's sunglasses apparently proved too tempting for someone.
Crash knocks Morabito from race
The 32-year-old Swiss rider was involved in a pile-up early in the 185.7km stage. Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal), Laurens ten Dam (LottoNL-Jumbo), Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo), Stijn Devolder (Trek Factory Racing), Jérémy Roy (FDJ.fr) and Yohann Gene (Europcar) were among the riders involved, although Morabito was the only rider to abandon. He left the scene in an ambulance and was diagnosed with a fractured clavicle at a nearby hospital.
Morabito started the day 27th overall, 39:33 behind leader Chris Froome (Team Sky). Morabito's FDJ teammate Thibaut Pinot finished second during the stage after Stephen Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka) caught and passed him and Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) a few kilometres from the finish.
Steve Morabito had to abandon after breaking his collarbone in a crash during stage 14.