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Race jury: Armstrong did not benefit from ‘shortcut’

Four-time champion Lance Armstrong avoided being fined or punished for his dramatic detour through a field to avoid crashing into fallen rival Joseba Beloki near the end of the Tour de France ninth stage Monday. A race jury determined that Armstrong was deemed not to have benefited from his impromptu change of direction. "Beloki's fall led Armstrong to take evasive action, leading him into a field which he left without gaining any advantage on the group of riders he had been with," said an organizers' statement. Meanwhile, the jury fined several other riders for infractions that occurred

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By VeloNews Interactive, Copyright AFP2003

Four-time champion Lance Armstrong avoided being fined or punished for his dramatic detour through a field to avoid crashing into fallen rival Joseba Beloki near the end of the Tour de France ninth stage Monday.

A race jury determined that Armstrong was deemed not to have benefited from his impromptu change of direction.

“Beloki’s fall led Armstrong to take evasive action, leading him into a field which he left without gaining any advantage on the group of riders he had been with,” said an organizers’ statement.

Meanwhile, the jury fined several other riders for infractions that occurred at other points along the 184.5km stage, particularly on the day’s four climbs.

Topping the list was the Rabobank team manager Theo De Rooy, who race organizers fined 600 Swiss francs ($440 U.S.) for driving in front of South African Robert Hunter. Hunter was riding behind his team car for a “prolonged period” according to organisers – a manoeuvre which can help riders conserve some of their energy and thus aid their climbs.

The 26-year-old from Johannesburg also copped a 100 Swiss franc fine and 40 seconds were added to his overall time – but he was not the only one sitting with his wheel near the rear bumper of a team car.

Team-mate Marc Wauters was docked 20 seconds in penalties and fined 50 SF.

The other riders to benefit from “short spells” behind team cars were Frenchman Nicolas Jalabert (CSC), Sandy Casar (fdjeux.com), Spaniard David Canada (Quick Step) and Italian Marco Milesi, all of whom were fined 30 SF.

Italian Guido Trentin perhaps came off worst after he used the side of a car to help launch himself forward while climbing, the Cofidis rider being fined 100 SF while 20secs were added to his time and he was also docked 10 points in the points competition.

Other riders with the same idea, and who were also fined, were Germans Matthias Kessler and Torsten Schmidt, Spaniard Jose Enrique Guierrez, Frenchman Jerome Pineau and Australian champion Stuart O’Grady. Fellow Australian Baden Cooke, the winner of Monday’s stage who is wearing the green jersey for the points competition, was fined 30 SF, although the 24-year-old from Victoria was only sitting in the saddle when he was pushed three times by a spectator.
Copyright AFP2003