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Walscheid relegated for apparent headbutt at Vuelta a Espana

Max Walscheid after his crash at Nokere Koerse
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Team Sunweb have ‘fully accepted’ the relegation of Max Walscheid in the sprint finish on stage 4 of the Vuelta a España on Tuesday, after the German appeared to headbutt another rider.

Walscheid placed third in El Puig, behind Fabio Jakobsen and Sam Bennett, but was soon informed by the UCI race jury that he had committed an infraction. Deemed to have sprinted 'irregularly', he was relegated to the bottom of the main peloton.

The incident seemingly occurred with around 400 metres to go. Walscheid was around five places back as his teammate Nikias Arndt led the bunch towards the line, and can be seen leaning his head over to the right and into another rider.

In a statement, Team Sunweb suggested he was reacting to a dangerous move from another rider. 

"Unfortunately, Max was relegated from his third place because his reaction was deemed too aggressive after another rider moved into him, a decision that the team fully accepts," said director Luke Roberts.

Juan Sebastian Molano, a lead-out man for Fernando Gaviria at UAE Team Emirates, would appear to be the rider in question. He can be seen near Walscheid in the final kilometre and was also relegated to the back of the bunch.

Third place would have been one of Walscheid’s strongest results of the season. The German, who won the Munsterland Giro last year, is yet to win in 2019, and his best result is his second place at Scheldeprijs.

Jakobsen won stage 4 in a photo finish with Bennett, who had been victorious on stage 3. The sprinters will take a back seat for a couple of days as the race heads for the hills.