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UCI jury erases penalties for three riders after Tour de France bottle flap

SAINT GIRON, France (VN) — The UCI race jury hit the reverse button overnight and pulled back time penalties against Rigoberto Urán, Serge Pauwels, and George Bennett.

The pair was slapped with 20-second time penalties after taking illegal water bottles too close to the finish line in Thursday’s marathon across the Pyrénées.

That decision kicked up a firestorm of criticism after it appeared other riders, including stage winner Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale), had done the same thing without receiving an onerous time penalty.

The race jury informed Cannondale-Drapac and LottoNL-Jumbo Friday morning that the time penalties were nullified.

“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 UCI said in a statement.

Cannondale boss Jonathan Vaughters, who had heavily criticized the race jury’s action Thursday, applauded the reversal on Twitter:

It’s rare to see the race jury backpedal on its post-stage decisions.

Rules say riders cannot take feeds within 20km of each stage finale, but that distance can be altered during the stage. On Thursday, it was set at 12.5km, but a few riders were spotted taking bottles from fans alongside the road.

The 20-second penalty seemed to suggest that the jury might have believed the riders had taken bottles from team staff lining the road, which is explicitly banned. TV images later revealed the bottles were passed up by fans.

This year’s Tour has been marked with controversial jury rulings. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) was ejected after stage 4, while Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) was only lightly sanctioned after taking a swipe at Quick-Step Floors rider Jack Bauer in stage 10.

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