Looking back on the controversy stirred up by the decision, the official who headed up the UCI's Tour de France jury that disqualified Peter Sagan from the race following the crash of Mark Cavendish on stage 4 suggested that cycling needs commissaires examining video footage of the sprints to make decisions on rule violations. Currently the jury is made up of officials who are travelling with the race or otherwise engaged on site.
Belgian Philippe Mariën, in an interview with Het Nieuwsblad, also said that the jury did not reverse a decision to first relegate Sagan. "The jury had only discussed that as a possibility in private. It had never been announced. We only made one decision," he said. That decision was the disqualification.
Sagan insisted that the jury did not ask him for his side of the story, and his Bora-Hansgrohe team protested the decision. But the UCI did not budge. Mariën took a lot of heat for the decision from Sagan fans, some of whom went to great lengths to carefully examine video footage and debate on Internet forums who was at fault. Some concluded like the panel that Sagan's elbow caused the crash. Others suggested Cavendish was already off balance from hitting a drainage grate at the kerb and ran into Sagan's arm.
Mariën said the UCI promised him they were working on a better solution.
"There must be a video referee, just like in football, that should be in front of the TV during the sprint to concentrate only on the sprint itself, then we can decide immediately and not look at the images later."
It was the second time in six years that the 52-year-old had been the chairman of the Tour de France jury. He has been head commissaire for the Giro d'Italia and worked as an official for the past two Olympic Games. But he said he had never experienced anything like what came after the decision to disqualify Sagan.
"When that happened, I received a message from a good friend that said, 'Don't watch TV, don't read any emails, Facebook or Twitter.' I received emails from around the world. Whatever we decided, it was never going to be good."
Compared with his last stint as jury chief in 2011, he said the Tour has become a monster, especially with the popularity of Twitter. "Everyone has his say, and as always, the best steering wheels are on the shore."
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