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Tirreno-Adriatico: 66 riders given virtual times to avoid finishing circuit chaos

The UCI commissaire were forced to work late into the evening and official race results were only issued three hours after the finish of stage 4 of Tirreno-Adriatico after 66 riders were stopped from racing the final hilly circuits around Fossombrone and given carefully calculated virtual times for the stage.

Chief international commissaire for Tirreno-Adriatico, Luc Herpelinck of Belgium, and his team of race officials were forced to act swiftly during the stage to stop a number of riders being caught by the leading group of riders. If the different groups had come together it would have been very difficult to discern which riders had effectively completed the laps, meaning the stage results would have effectively been falsified.

The UCI commissaires took the decision to stop 66 riders from covering the final laps. They then calculated a virtual time for them based on the time taken by the last rider to complete the circuit.

UCI rules for stage races state that 'riders must complete the entire distance of each stage to be included in the classification and to be allowed to continue in the event.' However, in the event of force majeure, the race commissaires are allowed to make different decision to protect the safety of the riders and ensure the race is fairly competed.

The 221km stage covered a rolling course in the Umbria and Le Marche hills, and so the peloton was scattered across a 30-minute window of time as they approached Fossombrone. The UCI commissaires realised the stage could have turned to chaos, so stopped the 66 riders who were over 17 minutes behind the leaders.

Cyclingnews understands that Omar Fraile (Astana) was the last rider to complete the full stage distance, while 66 riders were stopped when they reached the start of the circuit on the outskirts of Fossombrone.

Peter Sagan was the first to be stopped, with stage 3 winner Elia Viviani just behind him. Other riders arrived in small groups and their times were recorded by UCI commissaires. Their stage result was calculated by adding their time gap with the time it took Fraile to complete the circuits.

A total of 151 riders were listed on the stage results, but 66 of these were ‘saved’ by the UCI commissaires after being stopped. Three other riders were ruled to be outside the time limit.

The use of a 9.2km circuit meant problems were possible, with the hilly profile and high-speed of the stage sparking the issue. UCI rules allow circuits to be as small as eight kilometres to be used in races but these are often flat and so the peloton is not spread over a 30-minute period 

Following the events of stage 4 at Tirreno-Adriatico, a rule change is likely, so that the risk of a chaotic finish repeating itself is avoided in the future.

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