Tyler Farrar lost the red points jersey at the Giro d’Italia to Jérôme Pineau on Thursday, after the Frenchman finished third on stage 12 in Porto Recanti. The Garmin-Transitions sprinter has scored 74 points since the start of the race in Amsterdam and Pineau 66, but Farrar slipped out of the lead due to a 25-point deduction applied by the race jury on Wednesday under a new International Cycling Union (UCI) rule.
At the end of the 262km stage 11, where Richie Porte took the overall lead over from Alexandre Vinokourov, the 41 riders who finished 46 minutes behind were allowed to continue racing despite an official time cut of 39 minutes. But a new rule implemented by the UCI upon request of Tour de France organisers ASO stipulates that riders given such a favour are penalised in the points classification.
The measure is designed to discourage sprinters from riding easy in the mountains and still taking the daily honours and prize money awarded to the points classification leader, when they would otherwise be out of the race were it not for the judges’ clemency.
"This is the rule and I accept it," Farrar told Cyclingnews at the end of stage 12. "I’m disappointed with the outcome today because you always try to win another stage."
On Thursday, Australian track riders Cameron Meyer and Jack Bobridge had been visible at the front of the peloton as Garmin-Transitions led the pursuit of the early escape. The team paced hard to bring back the three-man breakaway of Olivier Kaisen (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Yuriy Krivtsov (Ag2R-La Mondiale) and Rick Flens (Rabobank).
But an attack with 12km-to-go by a number of the race favourites, including Alexandre Vinokourov, Ivan Basso, Vincenzo Nibali and Damiano Cunego destroyed the US team's work. It didn’t come down to a bunch sprint finish, with the powerful lead group finishing 10 seconds clear of the peloton.
Before learning that the red jersey was no longer his, Farrar said: "As long as I have the jersey, I’ll stay in the race but I don’t think I’ll have it until [the final stage in] Verona." With an intermediate stage on Friday, he may get it back for a day or two, but Farrar is now equal on points with Alexandre Vinokourov and only has a seven point lead over Cadel Evans. Both GC contenders are likely to score points in the mountains in the third week while Farrar will be struggling in the grupetto.
As a mark of respect to the Giro d’Italia, he won't abandon while leading the points classification, but the 25 points taken away from him are likely to see him skip the third week of the race. For those sprinters remaining at the Giro only stage 18 to Brescia is expected to end in a bunch finish. Farrar said he would evaluate the situation after stage 13 on Friday before deciding whether or not to leave the race in order to prepare for the Tour de France.