Volta a Catalunya: Valverde takes lead as Rojas penalised for push in team time trial

Movistar rider given three minutes for assisting teammates

Spain's Jose Joaquin Rojas has been stripped of the lead of the Volta a Catalunya after he was penalised three minutes for pushing in the team time trial, with his Movistar teammate Alejandro Valverde taking over as leader.

Rojas was penalised for pushing during the 41km team time trial starting and finishing in Banyoles. The two teammates he pushed, Nelson Oliveira and Andrei Amador, on a climb midway through the race, were also penalised one and two minutes, respectively.

The president of the UCI commissaires, Ernesto Maggioni, confirmed to a small group of reporters at the press room of the Volta a Catalunya that two teams, BMC Racing and Trek-Segafredo, had protested after the stage, won by Movistar with an advantage of two seconds on BMC Racing.

"Valverde is the new leader. He already knows," Maggioni said. "We have seen the images on the TV and they show clearly that Rojas pushes the other riders, and that's forbidden during a race. Each time he pushes, he gets a minute's penalty, as well as a fine for doing so.

"Rojas was pushing. He was the last in the line and his teammates are dropping back and he pushes them to take his place in the line because he was on the edge. That's forbidden."

Although UCI rules strictly forbid assistance among teammates in the team time trial, the rules call for a one-minute penalty for each rider on the team and a fine of 200 Swiss francs for each rider involved. Rojas was apparently penalised one minute for each incident, but it is not clear why other riders on the team aside from Rojas, Oliveira and Amador were not penalised.

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