The fifth stage of the For de France Women with Zwift 2022 saw the longest stage of the modern women’s WorldTour: 175 km long and without much apparent difficulty. Still, this turned out to be a gutting step for Human Powered Health.
At 60 kilometers from the finish, a small breakaway was rolling in front of the peloton and the favorites were content to let them trail. Team USA was represented at the break with Cypriot national champion Antri Christoforou.
In the peloton, team climber and leader for the mountain stages, Barbara Malcotti, came on the team radio to inform managers Andrew Bajadali and Jo Kiesanowski that her gear lever was broken and that she wanted to change bikes.
In women’s cycling, however, teams are only allowed one team car in the peloton and so Bajadali had to leave her breakaway and return to the peloton to come to the aid of Malcotti.
“I was like ‘great, we have to come back anyway and service our rider, so let’s pull over to the side of the road, and we’ll do it.’ We did it very efficiently. Cyclocross style: I take the bike, [the mechanic] give him the new bike and we go and ride,” Bajaldi said. weekly cycling.
A few minutes later, however, with Malcotti back in the peloton, the Stewards came on the race radio to inform the peloton that Malcotti was now disqualified from the race for “irregular attendance”.
It turned out that the team car had backed out of the breakaway at the front of the peloton and swerved away to the right side of the road as the peloton rolled to the left. Malcotti, at the front of the peloton, crossed to the other side of the road to complete his bike change and return to the peloton.
But the Technical Support section of the UCI Regulations (2.3.030) states that a rider may benefit from mechanical assistance and checks”only behind [the] group and stationary.
However, the UCI regulations do not specify the sanction for such an infringement and are therefore at the discretion of the Commissaires.
“I don’t know what it is. Maybe they want to lead by example, but they could have given us a heavy fine and a big warning, and that would have been enough instead of killing the hopes of ‘a 21-year-old pilot and dreams and upsetting everyone,” Bajaldi explained in frustration. “I mean, what kind of priority does that set?
Sticky bottles, motor stimulation, feeding all sorts of minor infractions are committed at just about every step. In fact, on this same stage, AG Insurance–NXTG was fined CHF 100 for food, and half of the Roland Cogeas team was fined CHF 100 each for missing a race number .
“I understand the safety aspect, where the rider up front could cause his crash, but we were way off the right side and it was a safe change of bike,” Bajaldi said.
“But the Comm just didn’t hear anything. A fine that would have been quite appropriate in the situation, but for them, that’s pretty extreme in my opinion. It’s way out there.”
Bajaldi said he was disgusted for the young driver and took all the blame.
“Poor girl. I have no words. It’s a big mistake and I admit it. We should know about it. Part of this job is making mistakes, and that’s a big one. is a technical aspect and I say [the other directors] just to keep it fresh in everyone’s mind,” he said.