CARCASSONNE, France (VN) — Gianni Moscon’s swing at French rider Elie Gesbert early in the start of Sunday’s stage 15 might have gone unnoticed at this Tour de France.
Riders saw it. Fans standing alongside the road might have seen it. But had it not been for TV images and the UCI’s new video review rules, Moscon might be starting Tuesday’s stage at the Tour de France.
Perhaps surprisingly, Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford said he supports video review to apply the UCI rulebook even when it counts against him. [related title=”More Tour de France news” align=”right” tag=”Tour-de-France”]
“We are not against that whatsoever,” Brailsford said Monday. “You’ve got to apply the rules. Why do that in an intermittent basis when you can use ‘VAR’ and modern technologies that other sports are doing? I think we should do it.”
Other sports have embraced instant replay to help referees. NFL has long used instant replay and this summer saw the introduction of “VAR” — Video Assistant Referee — at the FIFA World Cup.
The Moscon incident underscores how the UCI’s new rules of reviewing TV images and other video is now being used to apply cycling’s rulebook.
In the past, most infractions handed out daily during the Tour and other races came when witnessed by one of the fleet of UCI commissaires plying the course in cars and motorcycles. There were instances when blatant cheating was spotted on TV cameras was sanctioned — Nacer Bouhanni was punished for taking a swing at Jack Bauer during a sprint in last year’s Tour — but new UCI rules introduced for 2018 include a formal process and a commissaire dedicated to watching TV images for infractions that the on-the-road commissaires might miss.
On Sunday,nearly one hour after the stage, the race jury dropped the bombshell: Moscon was out of the race. Team Sky didn’t know about Moscon’s ejection until it was back at the team hotel.
“We’re obviously disappointed,” said yellow jersey holder Geraint Thomas. “There’s nothing we can do. What’s done is done. All we can do is focus on this next week.”
For the second time this season, cycling’s version of instant replay and its “TV commissaire” has seen a Team Sky rider taken out of a race.
In April, Luke Rowe was ejected from the Ronde van Vlaanderen after he rode for a few hundred yards on a sidewalk as the peloton approached the second passage of Oude Kwaremont.
Both instances kicked up controversy. In April, Lowe said he thought the race jury was too harsh in its application of the rules because he insisted he was simply trying to avoid hitting pedestrians.
Talking to journalists Monday morning, Brailsford voiced his support of the use of video to help the race jury make its rulings.
“We’ve got so much TV footage, the more that that can be done, the better,” Brailsford said. “In an incident like this, and in other incidents when someone might have lost time when they shouldn’t have, I am a big a fan of ‘VAR’ and direction that is all going. I know it’s clunky to start with, but I think we should use it more often.”