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UCI releases footage of Eekhoff drafting - Video

Nils Eekhoff after his disqualification
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The UCI have released footage of the drafting that saw Nils Eekhoff stripped of his U23 road race world title, along with a statement insisting the punishment was appropriate. 

Eekhoff crossed the line first in Harrogate on Friday but, nearly an hour later, was informed he had been disqualified after UCI officials reviewed video footage.

According to the jury report, Eekhoff was punished under 'article 4.7' under section 2.12.007 of the UCI regulations, for 'sheltering behind or taking advantage of the slipstream of a vehicle (for sometime)'. According to the UCI regulations, drafting is punishable by a fine, but riders can also be disqualified "in serious cases".

He and his coach later explained that he had crashed with 130km to go, dislocating his shoulder and breaking his bike, and that they weren't aware they might be breaking the rules by drafting back to the cavalcade of cars.

After the UCI commissaires refused to comment to press in the aftermath of the decision, the governing body's communications officer was sent out to try and provide some clarity. He suggested Eekhoff had been behind the car for "more than 30 seconds". The Dutch coach himself told Cyclingnews it was "a little over two minutes".

Video footage emerged on Friday evening, but only of Eekhoff making his way back through the cavalcade of cars towards the back of the peloton. The UCI's press officer said there was "no intention" to release the footage the jury used to come to their decision. 

However, a few hours after UCI president David Lappartient had spoken publicly in Harrogate, the governing body released a video showing what was close to the full incident. 

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"The rider was disqualified for sheltering behind a vehicle (4.7 of article 2.12.007) for over 2 minutes. The maximum sanction provided by the article was considered appropriate due to the time spent sheltering," read the accompanying statement. 

"The decision was taken by the commissaires' panel after the race based on images from a moto camera available to the UCI video commissaire. Race officials have reviewed the images (available here), followed due process by hearing the rider and team before making the decision.

Also, the race communique lists two other riders disqualified under the same article and according to the same process. As the world governing body of cycling the UCI is deeply committed to ensure the integrity of cycling and the fairness on the field of play."

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Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.