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It is a pity, but it is a rule: Marianne Vos on Vårgårda 'puppy paws' disqualification

VARGARDA SWEDEN AUGUST 07 A UCI commissaire talking to Marianne Vos of Netherlands and Jumbo Visma Team after disqualification during the 15th Postnord Vrgrda WestSweden 2022 Road Race a 1257km stage from Vargarda to Vargarda UCIWWT VargardaCycling on August 07 2022 in Vargarda Sweden Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
Marianne Vos of Jumbo-Visma talks with a UCI commissaire after her finish in the road race in Vargarda, Sweden (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)

Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) was the rider who raised her hands on the finish line of the PostNord Vårgårda WestSweden Road Race, but it will be the name of Trek-Segafredo’s Audrey Cordon-Ragot who appears in the race palmarès after Vos was disqualified over half an hour after the race was run, just before she was to go on the podium.

The post-race broadcast showed how a UCI commissaire approached the waiting Vos, Cordon-Ragot, and Pfeiffer Georgi (Team DSM), who was third across the line, and started talking to Vos. There was a brief discussion, then Vos picked up her backpack and walked away while the commissaire talked to Cordon-Ragot, who didn’t seem to like the outcome of the situation.

“When I was in that ‘puppy paw position’, I quickly realised it was not allowed. I immediately switched to the correct position. Apparently, it was enough for the UCI to disqualify me," said Vos who did not argue the decision and accepted the disqualification.

"We'll have to accept their decision. It is a pity, but it is a rule, and it is strictly enforced. You usually don’t ride in that position. I feel bad about it because I did not benefit from it, but rules are rules.”

The ‘puppy paw position’ was one of several riding positions that had been banned by the UCI early in 2021, along with the so-called ‘super tuck’ and sitting on the top tube on descents, in the interests of rider safety. This came on the heels of the international governing body also outlining punishment for littering outside defined zones.  The bans were enforced from April 1 of last year. 

Concurrently, the UCI had also announced measures to be taken to increase safety in races, such as through better barriers. Nonetheless, there have been several crashes, including very recently at the men’s Vuelta a Burgos, that seemed to belie these announcements.

For Cordon-Ragot, this is now her first individual victory in a Women’s WorldTour race, even though it did not come about in the manner she would have wanted.

“To be honest, I have a mixed feeling. I am super happy for the race I did, super proud of the performance of my teammates. We showed our strength with an amazing teamwork and my role was to finalise the huge work they did. That was the most important thing that happened today and what I will retain from the race,” she said.

“After the finish line I was happy for my second place, and I am still proud of it. I had no regrets because I was beaten by the strongest rider in the peloton at the moment. I was definitely not embarrassed to be second. Chapeau to Marianne, she was the first who recognised that a rule is a rule and accepted the sanction,” Cordon-Ragot continued.

Cordon-Ragot finished ahead of Pfeiffer Georgi (Team DSM) and Valerie Demey (Liv Racing Xstra), with Georgi moving up to second and Demey gaining a podium spot in third.

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Lukas Knöfler started working in cycling communications in 2013 and has seen the inside of the scene from many angles. Having worked as press officer for teams and races and written for several online and print publications, he has been Cyclingnews’ Women’s WorldTour correspondent since 2018.