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Jumbo-Visma director Merijn Zeeman kicked out of Tour de France for misconduct

Jumbo-Visma at the Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)

Jumbo-Visma directeur sportif Merijn Zeeman has been kicked out of the Tour de France for misconduct, according to official communications following stage 18 in La Roche-sur-Foron on Thursday. 

The Tour de France race jury reported in the official post-race communication notice stated that Zeeman intimidated and insulted a UCI employee during a bike check, of Primož Roglič's yellow-jersey bike, after Wednesday's stage 17 that finished at the Méribel ski station atop the Col de la Loze.

In accordance with UCI article 8.2.2, the fine states that Zeeman was removed from the race for "intimidation, insults, improper behaviour of a team member towards a UCI member during the bicycle check carried out after stage 17".

In addition to being removed from the Tour de France, Zeeman was also fined 2,000 Swiss francs.

The UCI confirmed Zeeman's expulsion from the Tour de France in a statement on Thursday, explaining that Zeeman behaved in an unacceptable manner toward a UCI staff member during an x-ray control and the dismantling of Primož Roglič's yellow-jersey bike as part of the checks for technological fraud.

"The UCI Commissaires Panel has excluded Merijn Zeeman, Team Manager of the Jumbo - Visma team from the Tour de France for 'intimidation, insults, improper behaviour of a team member towards a UCI member during the bike check carried out at the end of stage 17', in accordance with article 8.2.2 of the UCI Regulations," read a statement from the UCI.

"The commissaires found that Mr. Zeeman behaved in an unacceptable manner towards the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) staff responsible for carrying out an X-ray control and then dismantling the yellow jersey bike at the finish of the stage at Col de la Loze in accordance with UCI regulations relating to the fight against technological fraud. 

"As a result, Mr. Zeeman was excluded from the event and fined CHF 2,000. The UCI has made the fight against technological fraud one of its priorities to ensure the credibility of the results, and calls on all cycling families (riders, teams and organizers) to join forces to ensure the reputation of our sport."

The removal of Zeeman from the race with just three stages to go will be a blow for Jumbo-Visma as Roglič is leading the overall classification. The Slovenian will be looking ahead to the decisive stage 20, 36.2km individual time trial from Lure to the top of La Planche des Belles Filles. 

Update: Zeeman gives his side

Hours after Zeeman's dismissal was announced, late on Thursday night, Jumbo-Visma released a statement giving their side of the story, while Zeeman also took to Twitter to explain.

Zeeman's reacted badly when a UCI employee took apart the crankset of Roglič's bike, damaging it in the process, the team said, adding that the bike was found to be in accordance with UCI regulations.

Contradicting that statement on Friday, the UCI insisted that the bike had not been damaged. Zeeman was said to be highly emotional.

"The altercation that took place during that check gave the UCI a reason to sanction Merijn severely," read the team's statement. "Merijn made his apologies on the spot and, just like the team, regrets that the discussion has become so heated.

"To be clear: the check showed that the bike of GC leader Roglic was in accordance with the regulations."

Zeeman said that bike checks must be carried out in a reasonable manner, but added that he should have stayed calm and acted in a more respectful way towards the UCI employee.

"I got angry when the commissioner dismounted the crankset from Primož's bike," he said. "We stand for a fair sport and that includes checks, but that must be done in a reasonable way. Despite that, I should have kept myself cool and approached the UCI commissioner in a more respectful way.

"I am devastated, but our yellow dream lives on," he said on Twitter.

Zeeman will stay with the squad in France, but he will "no longer perform official functions within the accredited areas of the race," the team said.