Cervélo TestTeam set the second fastest time in the opening team time trial at the Tour of Qatar but just hours later the entire squad were penalised one-minute for pushing.
The decision by the race jury meant Cervélo officially finished last on the stage, 1:08 behind winners Team Sky and now has very little chance of overall success in the race.
Cervélo opted to ride a double line formation in the team time trial to help then fight the strong winds but it cost them dearly.
The judge following the team, Jinshan Zhao of China, said that mid-way round the 8.2 kilometre course, Heinrich Haussler pushed Gabriel Rasch after taking a turn on the front. Chief judge Enrique Gonzalez Martinez agreed and, in spite of the short distance of the stage, enforced the International Cycling Union (UCI) rule which prescribes a one-minute penalty for pushing.
Haussler and Rasch were also fined 200 Swiss Francs and the team's riders dropped from top-ten overall to positions now outside the top-100 in the overall standings.
Directeur sportif Jens Zemke, Heinrich Haussler and Gabriel Rasch made a desperate plea to the judges to overturn their decision but the judges refused.
"I touched Rasch but I didn't push him. He didn't gain any advantage," Haussler said, dismayed about the decision.
"I'd just done a turn on the front and was moving back, when the wind blew us together, I put my hand out to avoid crashing. It's a crazy decision but the commissares are the boss of the race."
Zemke initially suggested that the Cervélo Test Team might pull out of the race. However, he eventually accepted the penalty.
"It's a very hard decision. Heinrich pushed him for safety reasons, not to get an advantage, but to avoid a crash. Next time maybe they have to crash…" he said.
"We were really happy with second place it was a big success for us to beat teams like Garmin. Now our motivation goes down. We will have to try and show something special to make up for it but it's really hard to win overall when you start in last spot."
The Tour of Qatar continues on Monday with the first 147 kilometre road race stage from the Camel Race Track to the Qatar Foundation near the capital Doha.
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