Controversy ensued Thursday at the Tour of Austria, after a massive crash and neutralized race created confusion over the time gap to the breakaway in stage 5. Johann Van Zyl (MTN-Qhubeka) ultimately won the stage from a solo breakaway, but IAM’s David Tanner said a miscalculation by race officials robbed him of a chance at victory.
“I am really disappointed today because the UCI and race organizers have stolen a victory from the team. It’s not only me, but also for my teammates who give 200%, who have worked a lot all day, and it’s not right,” Tanner said in a press statement from his team.
The big crash occurred 30 kilometers from the finish with the peloton 2:10 behind the breakaway. The UCI head official chose to neutralize the race, but the decision was not made immediately. “The guys continued to race and [the official] only decided to stop us 19 kilometers from the finish,” IAM Cycling sport director, Kjell Carlstrom explained.
As the race restarted with 19 kilometers to go, the breakaway was given the time gap that was recorded before the crash occurred, two minutes, 10 seconds, even though the peloton had reduced the gap by the time the race was neutralized. Van Zyl ended up winning the stage by only six seconds over the peloton, which was led home by Tanner.
“We spoke with the commissioners after the finish, but we were told that we could not change the result. He recognized his mistake, of course, but that does not give the victory to David Tanner,” Carlstrom said.
Tanner was frustrated, believing he would have been the stage winner, had the correct gap been assessed after the neutralization. “We can’t neutralize the race after every crash,” Tanner said. “If it’s like that then you’d be stopping the race all the time because there are always crashes. Even today, there was a crash early, and they didn’t stop it. Even now, I can’t seem to understand how they could possibly do such a thing.”
This was the second instance this week where the peloton has been neutralized due to a large crash. On Monday, during stage 3 of the Tour de France, the peloton was neutralized after a high-speed crash took out many riders, including the yellow jersey-wearer Fabian Cancellara. Cancellara abandoned after the stage with two broken vertebrae.