After initially saying that it would not go back on the decision to punish Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) and George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo), the UCI has done just that. Uran and Bennett were handed 20-second penalties for taking bidons in the final 20 kilometres of stage 12 of the Tour de France. However, stage winner Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) escaped any punishment for the same offence. Rather than handing a further penalty to Bardet, the UCI has decided not to punish anybody.
Cannondale-Drapac manager Jonathan Vaughters wrote on Twitter that the UCI had reversed its decision and the team confirmed to Cyclingnews that this was the case. LottoNL-Jumbo also confirmed on social media that the 20 seconds given to Bennett had indeed been taken away.
The decision comes after the UCI told Cyclingnews that it would not go back on the initial ruling. On Friday morning, the UCI issued a statement saying that problems with getting teams to the riders in order to supply drinks and food led to their decision to change their ruling.
"In light of the inability of teams to resupply their riders before the last climb of stage 12 of the 2017 Tour de France due to specific circumstances of the race which had blocked vehicles, the UCI Commissaires Panel has decided to annul the penalties imposed on riders Serge Pauwels (Team Dimension Data), George Bennett (Team Lotto NL - Jumbo) and Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale Drapac Pro Cycling Team)," the statement said.
UCI regulations dictate that riders cannot take food or drinks in the first 50 and final 20 kilometres of a stage or race. This can be altered by the jury, if they deem it necessary due to weather conditions or the length of the event.
Uran, Bennett and Bardet all took drinks on the penultimate climb, within the final 10 kilometres of the stage. Uran took it from a spectator who turned out to be a staff member of Cannondale France, according to Vaughters, while Bardet and Bennett took bottles from the same family.
Bennett and Uran kept their position on the stage but had 20 seconds added to their overall time. Having closed the gap to the yellow jersey to 35 seconds, Uran moved back to a 55-second deficit on race leader Fabio Aru (Astana). Dimension Data's Serge Pauwels was also deemed to have taken an illegal feed and handed the same 200CHF fine and 20-second penalty.
Both Cannondale-Drapac and LottoNL-Jumbo issued appeals to the UCI, but the governing body initially stood firm on the decision and told Cyclingnews on Thursday night that it did not have footage of Bardet taking a bottle. The removal of the 20-second penalty means that the top four in the overall classification are separated by just 35 seconds.
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