Dave Brailsford has dismissed the idea that Team Ineos have a discipline issue after Luke Rowe was ejected from the Tour de France along with Tony Martin (Jumbo-Visma) following their clash on stage 17. The incident marked the second time in as many years that one of Brailsford’s riders has been ejected from the Tour after Gianni Moscon was disqualified in 2018 following a similar incident. The Italian tried to strike Elie Gesbert on stage 15 of last year’s Tour.
Brailsford spoke outside the Team Ineos bus on Thursday morning following an unsuccessful appeal against Rowe's disqualification. The incident was captured on television, and footage showed Martin trying to force the Welshman off the road and Rowe retaliating by raising his hand to the German’s face. Both Rowe and Martin were in Embrun ahead of stage 18, but did not start.
When asked by Cyclingnews if the team had a discipline issue after losing two riders in similar circumstances two years running, Brailsford shook his head and replied: “No not in the slightest. No.”
Brailsford was also asked by Cyclingnews if the UCI need to look at their consistency regarding such incidents. He was asked about the comparison between Rowe and Martin and when Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) hit a fan on the roadside during the Giro d’Italia after being taken down by the fan running alongside him. Lopez was not ejected from the race.
“I think that’s a very good point. There’s the act of aggression and normally from where I’m sitting, one of the parties is unhappy," Brailsford said. "If someone says, 'Okay he tried to hit me or push me, someone is unhappy with the situation whereas no one is unhappy here. They were both trying to get to the front and do the same job at the same time. It got a bit heated but you see that in most racing sports. That’s part of the sport. I think consistency would be a really good point for them to take in consideration and maybe explain to everyone.”
Brailsford admitted that the chances of overturning the UCI’s decision was small, although Rowe did turn up at the start of stage 18 hopeful of racing. The Team Ineos manager was adamant that the incident could not become is distraction for the rest of the team.
“You’ve got your appeal and then if they say no then you go to CAS. That’s the whole point of them. I’m not going to go into technicalities in case I get it wrong but that’s for the lawyers," he said. "It’s a bit late in the day for all of this and what we’re mindful of is that it doesn’t form a distraction in one of the most important days of the year for us.”
After watching the footage several times on Wednesday night and again on Thursday morning, Brailsford also stuck to his guns, suggesting that the UCI had made the wrong decision.
“Even more so now. Having really looked at the rules, looked at the incident and spoken to both riders and spoken to Richard [Plugge] at Jumbo, I think that collectively everyone thinks that it was a harsh decision. There’s the spirit of the law and the application of the law. Sometimes a bit of context wouldn’t go amiss," Brailsford said. “Our key thing is not to allow this to become a distraction and to focus on what we need to do. We’re going to race with seven guys and we’re going to make it 100 per cent dialled in.”
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