A key member of the Tour de France’s leading team Jumbo-Visma has been kicked out of the race just days before yellow jersey Primož Roglič arrives to Paris.
- Team Sunweb jerseys feature Dyneema for added protection
- Tour de France: Teams
- Tour de France: Standings
Merijn Zeeman, one of the lead sport directors at Jumbo-Visma, was also fined 2000CHF by the Tour race jury Thursday for an incident that apparently happened Wednesday at the top of the Col de la Loze summit.
The jury cites UCI rule 8.2.2 of the UCI regulations for Merijn’s expulsion, and states he was removed for: “Intimidation, insults, improper behavior of a member of a team towards a member of the UCI.”
In a statement issued by the UCI, the governing body said that Zeeman behaved “In an unacceptable manner toward the UCI staff.”
“Mr. Zeeman behaved in an unacceptable manner towards the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) staff responsible for carrying out an X-ray control and then dismantling the Yellow Jersey bike at the finish of the stage at Col de la Loze in accordance with UCI regulations relating to the fight against technological fraud,” the statement said. “As a result, Mr. Zeeman was excluded from the event and fined CHF 2,000. The UCI has made the fight against technological fraud one of its priorities to ensure the credibility of the results, and calls on all cycling families (riders, teams and organizers) to join forces to ensure the reputation of our sport.”
In a social media post, Zeeman said he became upset after a UCI official dismantled race leader Primož Roglič’s bicycle following the stage. The official wanted to independently disassemble the bottom bracket, Zeeman said.
“Primož’s bicycle was damaged during this dismantling. Despite this incident, I should have kept my cool and approached the UCI Commissioner respectfully. I regret not doing this,” Zeeman wrote on Twitter. “After this incident, I immediately apologized to the UCI commissioner concerned, who also accepted my apologies.
I am devastated, but our yellow dream lives on.”
The UCI has been conducting controls after each stage as part of its efforts to fight “technological fraud.” So far during this Tour, the UCI has been testing about seven bikes after each stage.
Jumbo-Visma’s Sepp Kuss was spotted riding away on his bike after finishing fourth on the stage, so it’s likely the incident could involve race leader’s Roglič’s bike.
The UCI is bringing a mobile X-ray machine to each stage finish. A crew of several UCI staffers examine select bikes and pass them through into an X-ray that can reveal the internal workings of the bike frame. If something looks suspicious, the staffers can disassemble the bike.
Since the UCI rolled out the mobile X-ray machine a few years ago, no bike has ever been found with illegal or banned motors or assistance.