Irish protest at disqualification

David McCann was listed as the best Irish finisher on yesterday's tough stage of the Tour of Britain, placing nineteenth on the mountainous leg to Sheffield. First across the line was actually Roger Aiken, FBD Insurance Rás stage winner and national cyclo cross champion, who finished tenth on the stage after being involved in a long-distance breakaway for over 150 kilometres. However, he and team manager Morgan Fox were disqualified from the race by the judges, who said that the rider had held onto the team car while chasing back onto the front group during the stage.

Both protested their innocence, filing an ultimately unsuccessful appeal to the decision. "It is absolute nonsense," said a livid Fox afterwards. "Roger did a great ride today, really rode well for a young guy breaking through. They claimed that Roger hung onto a bottle for 15 seconds when he was chasing back on. He got a bottle from the team car, sure enough, but was holding it on a descent for about two seconds. That's absolutely normal in cycling, everyone does it and it is normally tolerated. He got no real help from it."

Aiken had been one of thirteen riders who went clear inside the first ten kilometres of the stage, building up an insurmountable lead over the main bunch. The Belgian-based Banbridge rider rode courageously on the day's climbs but was tailed off on the first category ascents of Holme Moss and Snake Pass.

On both instances he rode hard to regain contact, and did so again when he faded on the final climb of the day. He crossed the line tenth on the stage, 11 seconds after world championship bronze medallist Luca Paolini (Team CSC) outsprinted Bram Schmitz (T-Mobile) for the win.

"When we went into the commissaire meeting, we appealed against the severity of the decision," Fox continued. "We were amazed that they didn't change it, as to throw us out of the race was too much. I was shocked, what happened to Roger is very wrong. He did a great ride but got this instead."

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