Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) has been docked 1:10 by commissaires at Paris-Nice as punishment for prolonged drafting by a team car as he attempted to regain the peloton following a crash in the finale of stage 2.
After picking up two bonus seconds on the day’s intermediate sprints, Meersman was in the virtual overall lead when he was among the fallers in a crash a little over 10 kilometres from the finish in Saint-Georges-sur-Baulche.
Meersman was forced to wait for a bike change and had no teammates with him once he got going again, but television pictures showed that he spent prolonged periods of time tucked in the slipstream of the Omega Pharma-QuickStep team car in a bid to rejoin the bunch.
The Belgian failed to make it back up to the front of the race, and ultimately rolled home in 101st place, in a sizable group that finished 18 seconds down on stage winner Moreno Hofland (Belkin).
That result would have left Meersman in 45th place overall, 21 seconds off the yellow jersey of Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr), but shortly after the finish of the stage, the commissaires decided to penalise him for drafting behind his team car. Meersman was thus docked 1:10 and his overall position has been corrected to 102nd, 1:31 down on Bouhanni.
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