Eduardo Sepulveda (Bretagne-Seché Environment) was yanked from the Tour de France by the race jury for taking a 100-meter ride in an AG2R-La Mondiale team car near the the finish of Saturday’s stage.
“Excluded from my first Tour de France, it is the worst nightmare for me,” Sepulveda said.
The young Argentine, in his first Tour, stopped with a broken chain and “panicked,” he said. His own team car had missed him and stopped just up the road. Rather than walk, he got in the back of an the AG2R team car of sport director Vincent Lavenu, drove about 100 meters, and then got out.
Even over a short distance, the rules forbid a rider from taking a ride in a team car or any other vehicle.
“I lack experience, it’s my first Tour, I lived every moment with a lot of stress. This was the case in the final that day, and when I break my chain and I do not see my car coming. I panicked, it’s true,” he said. “I saw the car of Emmanuel Hubert stop a little earlier, I had the very bad habit of getting into the AG2R-La Mondiale [car].”
Lavenu, a long-time director, said it was “unnecessary to expel” Sepulveda. “He was totally panicking. We only drove about 100 meters with him on board,” he said, adding, “I feel sorry for him.”
Emmanuel Hubert, Bretagne general manager, said the team must bow to the wishes of the officials, but found the application of the rule “very severe in context.”