The two-time Vuelta winner was one of three Ineos Grenadiers riders to fail to register for Thursday's 230km stage, along with Richard Carapaz, who's currently second overall, and Andrey Amador.
Due to COVID-19 measures, the Vuelta organisers have scrapped the traditional physical sign-on process, and replaced it with a contactless facial recognition system, whereby the riders pause in front of a camera en route to the morning podium.
Froome, Carapaz, and Amador did not make that trip to the podium and, as per UCI regulations, were each fined 500 Swiss Francs and stripped of 15 UCI points. Directeur sportif Gabriel Rasch was also fined 500 CHF.
While Carapaz is currently in 89th place in the UCI's World Ranking, and Amador 1904th, Froome is absent from the standings, with no points to deduct from. His podium penalty pushed him below zero.
The ranking works on a rolling 52-week system, with points tallied from the previous 12 months. Froome, who suffered a career-threatening injury in June 2019, only returned to racing in February this year, and has since been working his way back towards full fitness.
As such, his results so far this season have been far from when he was at the height of his powers, and he has yet to score a single point.
Different scales of points are awarded depending on the classification of each race, but Froome's best placing this year was 30th on stage 3 of the Tour de l'Ain.
Froome came to the Vuelta having missed out on selection for the Tour de France but results have been far from the forefront of his mind, especially with Carapaz in contention for the red jersey. The seven-time Grand Tour winner is instead treating the race as a building block for next season, when he'll move to Israel Start-Up Nation.
"I’m actually really enjoying this Vuelta a España. It’s a completely different race for me compared to any other Grand Tour that I’ve done in terms of my own expectations and GC. That’s quite nice because I’m going into stages, doing my job, and then sitting up when my work is done," Froome told Cyclingnews earlier this week.
"I’ve progressively been trying to build as the race has gone on and I’ve been feeling that over the last few days I’ve been able to contribute more than at the beginning of the race. I think that’s a great sign as my legs are slowly returning step by step. I’ve still got a lot a long way to get back to the level I was at previously, but it’s one step at a time and I’m really happy with the progress that I’ve made so far.
"Throughout this season what I’ve felt has been missing is that top-end racing. Obviously, I spent the best part of six months off last year with the injury and then the additional time off with the COVID situation I really felt that’s what was missing. So coming into this I knew that if I could just get the majority of this race in my legs then I should start to feel more like myself. That’s exactly what I’ve found and that’s really positive for me."
The jury report from stage 15 of the Vuelta a España also included a 500CHF fine - plus penalties in all the race classifications – for Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ) for "obstruction by a rider to delay the movement of another rider".
Movistar director José Luis Arrieta was fined for "failing to respect the instructions of the commissaires", and Team Sunweb rider Michael Storer was fined for "inappropriate behaviour in front of the public."
The Vuelta continues on Friday with another medium mountain stage ahead of Saturday's decisive summit finish at La Covatilla and Sunday's final ride into Madrid.
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