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Russia abandons Costa Rican tour

Alexander Khatuntsev (Russia) finishes the stage, but he was disqualified from the race

Alexander Khatuntsev (Russia) finishes the stage, but he was disqualified from the race (Image credit: Vuelta Internacional a Costa Rica)

The Russian national team abandoned La Vuelta Ciclista Internacional a Costa Rica en masse on Saturday in protest of the race jury's decision to disqualify Alexander Khatuntsev a day earlier.

Khatuntsev had been the first rider to cross the line on Friday's third stage, however, the 24-year-old had taken a wrong turn, cutting some 20 kilometres off the day's 130.3 kilometre course. The race's chief commissaire, Cuban Rafael Rodríguez Padrón, made the decision to disqualify the Russian from the race, despite Russian protests that Khatuntsev had been misdirected by race officials.

Russia nevertheless won the third stage with Sergey Kolesnikov the next rider to finish, one second clear of the peloton.

But in an act of solidarity for their teammate, the remaining five Russian riders commenced the race's fourth stage in La Fortuna, only to abandon the race after several metres. Alexey Shmidt, Víctor Shmalk, Evgeniy Kovalev, Ivan Kovalev and Kolesnikov were the riders to leave the event on Saturday.

Although the Russian's departure does not affect the overall classification, the team had been one of the major animators of the race. Kolesnikov's stage three victory had followed Kovalev and Shmidt's 1-2 finish on the second stage into Ciudad Quesada.

Kolesnikov's abandon sees Henry Raabe (Citibank-Economy-Rent-a-Car-Blue) move into the lead of the points classification

Kolesnikov had also been the Russian team's highest placed rider on general classification in 26th, 1:23 behind current leader and defending Champion Gregori Brenes (BCR-Pizza Hut-KHS-Powerade).