The incident happened at the front of the peloton with Federov pulling on his brakes while riding at speed at the head of the bunch. The Astana-Premier Tech rider appeared to be trying to attack from the peloton after an early break had already formed.
Vergaerde was on the Astana rider's wheel at the time and almost rode into the back of Fedorov after the Astana rider became frustrated with not being allowed to ride clear. Vergaerde then retaliated by coming alongside Fedorov and shoulder barging into his right-hand side. Fedorov then tried to follow and appeared to attempt a similar move, although he made no contact.
Neither rider came down in the incident but the race organisers called both rider's team cars and expelled the athletes from the race with around 210km still to race.
The incident leaves the defending champion, Mathieu van der Poel, with one less teammate for the majority of the race.
According to Sporza, Alpecin-Fenix DS, Christophe Roodhoft, said: "Before Otto's move, Fedorov misbehaved terribly. He intended to crash Otto and Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe). Otto responds in the picture. He had both hands on the bars, but unfortunately, he has reacted with an impulse. And if the ref shows red, you have to leave the field."
Vergaerde also spoke to Sporza from the road. "Fedorov still wanted to go to the early break, but he slammed his brakes. I almost crashed and reacted. It is a great pity to let the team down like this, because I was indicated to be in the lead. I can't say much. The jury will probably want to set an example. It's sour."
Astana responded directly to Cyclingnews when asked for comment.
"We have seen the same images that everyone has seen on television. We are disappointed that Fedorov has been disqualified but with the race underway, we won’t have an opportunity to speak to him and understand exactly what happened until after the finish. For now, our focus is on the six riders we have left in the race.” said Steve Bauer.
More to follow...
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