QuickStep-AlphaVinyl team director Geert Van Bondt was given a hefty 2,000 Swiss franc fine for sparking a crash that took out his own rider, World Champion Julian Alaphilippe, during De Brabantse Pijl on Wednesday.
Van Bondt was attempting to pass the peloton as they crossed the line with 22km to go to support Remco Evenepoel, who had made the winning breakaway. As he tried to steer the car between the riders and the barriers, he ran into Cofidis' Bryan Coquard, causing several riders to fall.
According to Wielerflits.nl, Van Bondt was given permission to pass the peloton by the race jury and followed the Ineos Grenadiers team car.
"I honked several times," Van Bondt said. "The riders also heard us coming, because the group also moved to the right. Then Bryan Coquard looked back, hit the front bumper of the car and fell. In his wake, of course, a number of other riders, including Julian Alaphilippe and a rider from Bingoal Pauwels Sauzen WB (Mathijs Paasschens, ed)."
Larry Warbasse (AG2R Citroën), who crashed along with Alaphilippe, posted images of the crash to social media with the comment, "Well this sucked".
Van Bondt regretted the incident but defended his driving. "I think I can say that I am one of the most careful drivers in the pack. It's also the first time in ten years that this has happened to me. I can only hope that the damage is not too bad for everyone involved," he said.
Van Bondt's fellow sports director Klaas Lodewyck was in the passenger seat and said the incident was "extremely annoying" and also defended Van Bondt's driving.
"Everyone knows he is not a dangerous driver. He wants to let it sink in for a while, but later we will certainly make a few phone calls to the concerned team leaders of the riders who fell and apologize for what happened.
"In every race you have a number of similar situations. But this one is full screen and a lot of riders are involved. Due to the rain and the slippery road surface, there were also riders who slipped due to the sudden braking."
The race jury Chairman Peter Stuppacher clarified that even though the QuickStep-AlphaVinyl car was given permission to go ahead, "the driver of the vehicle is responsible for what he does and has to decide for himself whether he can pass at that time or not".
It wasn't the team's only run-in with the jury, as Evenepoel received a warning for pushing Ineos' Ben Turner.
QuickStep-AlphaVinyl's misfortunes continued at the finish as Evenepoel was blocked in the sprint and missed the podium while gesticulating over the actions of Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal), who was relegated to ninth.
Magnus Sheffield (Ineos Grenadiers) escaped solo to take the win with Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R Citroën) and Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic) rounding out the podium.
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