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Knox was kicked off the race after the race jury deemed, he had spent too long drafting behind a race vehicle during the opening road stage out and back from Tanunda. The 27-year-old had been involved in a heavy crash with around 55km remaining of the stage.
In an update on social media, Knox said that he accepted his “responsibility” for his actions, but added that he should have been given some leniency as he’d had to undergo lengthy medical checks for concussion and other injuries. He subsequently had to stop to replace a broken bike.
Also read: James Knox disqualified from Tour Down Under
“As some of you may have seen, I was disqualified from the first stage of the Tour Down Under. I crashed hard at 55km to go and required a medical assessment from my team doctor. To make sure that no bones were broken and more importantly, that I was not concussed,” Knox wrote. “After remounting, I realised my handlebar was broken, and I needed to stop again and change onto my spare bike.
“The race situation at this moment was settled after the intermediate sprint, but the commissaire refused to let me stay behind the car for more than a couple of kilometres. The exact reasons for this, I’m not entirely sure. My only ambition was to rejoin the back of the convoy or, at a minimum, to the other crashed riders ahead of me. Hoping to continue in a race I’ve travelled around the world to partake in and still has 4 days remaining.
“I watched from behind as other crashed riders were allowed to stay behind their cars to rejoin the race, as you would expect. I have to accept my own responsibility for the mistakes I made after this. On my own, with no information given about time gaps or time cuts, I took some draft from a couple of soigneur cars, who were leaving the final feed, for a few kilometres. I was seen doing so and disqualified for this.”
Knox was not the only rider punished for drafting following the incident, though he was the only one kicked off the race. Bahrain Victorious rider Herman Pernsteiner received a three-minute time penalty in the GC and a fine for drafting after the same crash.
There has been an increased push to have in-race concussion assessments in recent seasons, but the rules on them are still relatively new. Knox said that he was not trying to get “an advantage” from the situation and that something needed to change if riders were to receive proper medical checks in the case of a crash.
“It seems clear to me if cycling is going to take serious steps in maintaining rider welfare, commissaires should not punish riders for staying behind after a crash to be properly evaluated,” Knox wrote. “The actions they took in the aftermath of the crash clearly demonstrated to me I would have been better off immediately remounting without undergoing a proper examination. The rules for returning to the convoy are very tricky but I feel like this was a clear-cut example that I wasn’t trying to use the cars for an advantage, nor would I have been in that situation without crashing.”
— James Knox (@JamesKnoxx) January 19, 2023