CAP FREHEL, France (AFP) – Movistar’s Jose Joaquin Rojas lost possession of the Tour de France green jersey after blocking Mark Cavendish on the midway sprint of the race’s fifth stage, officials announced on Wednesday.
HTC sprinter Cavendish went on to power his way to victory on the 164.5km ride from Carhaix to Cap Frehel, finishing ahead of Belgian champion Philippe Gilbert and Rojas.
In accordance with the post-race protocol, Rojas stepped on to the podium to be awarded the green jersey.
But after reviewing the halfway sprint, where Rojas and Belgian Tom Boonen closed the door on Cavendish, race officials said both Rojas and Boonen would be stripped of their points from that sprint.
“After reviewing the intermediate sprint it has been decided by the race jury to relegate Jose Joaquin Rojas and Tom Boonen from the intermediate sprint,” said the race’s competition director, Jean-Francois Pescheux.
“Both riders blocked Cavendish when he was trying to race up the inside. As a result both riders lose the points. The green jersey now goes to Philippe Gilbert.”
Organisers have changed the rules governing the green jersey competition for this year, with points now available to the first 15 riders over the intermediate sprint line instead of just the first three.
It means that even if a small breakaway escapes to claim some points, some mid-stage drama is guaranteed thanks to the sprinters looking to bag the remaining points.
Cavendish was powering up the inside of the road when Boonen, a few bike lengths ahead with Rojas on his wheel, infringed the rules by leaving his line of sprint.
After being blocked, Cavendish displayed his frustration by banging on his handlebars and gesturing wildly.