Kirsten Wild looked to have secured a third victory at the Prudential RideLondon Classique but shortly after crossing the finish line in first place race officials stripped her of the title for deviating from her line and inadvertently causing a massive crash in the final sprint. Wild's team WNT-Rotor have released a statement saying they are disappointed but accept the official decision.
"We are really disappointed about the disqualification of @kirsten_wild after @RideLondon but we have to accept and respect the decision of the UCI #RideLondon," WNT-Rotor posted on their official Twitter account after learning about the disqualification.
Video footage of the final stretch or racing on The Mall shows the field's top sprinters preparing for a final sprint. Lisa Brennauer is the last lead-out for Wild with Chloe Hosking (Ale Cipollini) on her wheel. The video pans out to view the front of the field sprinting where Lorena Wiebes (Parkhotel Valkenburg) opening her final sprint first. Wild was positioned further back near the middle of the road and then veered toward an opening on the left side of the road with roughly 100 metres to go.
Wild's back wheel overlapped with Chloe Hosking's front wheel and that inadvertently caused a domino of crashes among the main field. The video shows some 20 riders hitting the pavement along with their bikes bouncing in the air and scattered across The Mall.
Wild continued sprinting, seemingly unaware of the crash, and closed the gap to Wiebes. The two sprinters crossed the line side-by-side with Wild initially being given the win. Officials then reviewed the crash video footage and disqualified Wild from the race.
Race jury reverse Wild's disqualification to a lesser relegation
In a post-race interview with BBC Sports, Wild said it was "the best feeling to beat the best sprinters in the world. I didn't see the crash, it was behind me, it was really hectic. I was only looking for the finish line." WNT-Rotor also released a video on Twitter of Wild and her teammates celebrating their prestigious win.
After a review of the finish, however, the race jury initially disqualified Wild for deviating from her line during the sprint, according to UCI Regulation 2.12.007 Article 5.1. The decision gave Wiebes the victory and the €25,000 winner’s purse, with Elisa Balsamo (Valcar-Cylance) moving up to second and Coryn Rivera (Sunweb) up to third.
Officials later reduced the decision from disqualification to relegation to last place in the front group and Wild was reinstated to 37th place.
"Kirsten Wild (WNT-Rotor Pro Cycling Team) crossed the line in first place but was disqualified by the UCI Commissaires Panel as she was judged to have deviated from her chosen line and endangered other riders," said Mick Bennett, Race Director for the Prudential RideLondon Classique. "Following further review of the TV footage, Wild was relegated to last place in her group (37th position)."
Regarding the extent of the injuries due to the crash, Bennett said that "A number of riders crashed during the final sprint but initial reports confirm that there were no serious injuries."
British road and track star Elinor Barker (Drops Cycling) was left with a broken collarbone while Hosking hit her head and suffered road rash.
The RideLondon Classique marked the 16th round of the Women’s WorldTour with the top teams in the world represented on the start line in London on Saturday. The race started in 2013 as a criterium and is in it's seventh edition, but it has been part of the Women's WorldTour since the series' inception in 2016. Organisers post one of the highest pay-outs in women's cycling at roughly €100,000 and offered live streaming.
The women raced 20 laps of a 3.5km circuit that started and finished on The Mall. The loop was routed clockwise around St. James's Park, past the Horse Guards Parade, down Birdcage Walk, past Buckingham Palace and onto Constitution Hill. The peloton travelled up Constitution Hill to the end and then turned around to come back the same way, and onto The Mall for the finish line stretch.
Wild, a two-time winner of the race (2016 and 2018) was a favourite to win a third title along the sprinter-friendly circuit. The Dutch sprinter combines her world-class track endeavours with road cycling and has had a strong season with victories at Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne and Gent-Wevelgem, and both races are part of the Women’s WorldTour. She also won two stages of the Healthy Ageing Tour and Tour de Bretagne Feminin.
Cyclingnews reached out to WNT-Rotor for a comment from Wild regarding the relegation but did not receive a response before publishing this article.