There’s no such thing as a tie in professional cycling.
Wednesday’s second stage at the CRO Race in Croatia reconfirmed that.
The race jury awarded a photo-finish sprint victory to Bahrain Victorious rider Jonathan Milan ahead of Pierre Barbier (B&B Hotels-K) that was too close to call.
The pair came in for the bike throw, and the Frenchman celebrated what he thought was his first pro win for his second-tier French team.
But the race jury said hold on.
After a meticulous review of the photo finish, the jury awarded victory to Milan.
The difference? 24.9572 seconds to 24.9568 seconds.
That’s just four 10,000th of a second.
“I would never have raised my arms if I wasn’t sure,” Barbier said at the line. “Even Milan told me that I am the winner. It’s obvious to me.”
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The difference was measured by real time with a precise camera used at the finish line.
The official time came down to a difference of 0.0004 seconds.
Using such a small difference to decide the winner in cycling is in contrast to World Cup and Olympic alpine skiing, which measures official results down to a one-hundredth of a second.
Ties have been awarded, including for the gold medal in the women’s downhill race in the 2014 Olympic Games.
B&B Hotels-KTM could only swallow the bitter pill that the photo finish served up.
“The photo is the photo, we are seconds,” team manager Jérôme Pineau told L’Equipe. “It’s a big disappointment for us. We believed in it, the team did a wonderful job. The photo-finish is seen by our rider and by our sports director. They did a good job and we finished second. We were second behind a WorldTour team and we can be proud of that. It’s the law of sport.”
After the review, Milan, a track gold medalist in team pursuit in Tokyo who won his first pro road race the day before, could only celebrate.
“To win two times in a row now is just incredible,” Milan said. “We knew we wanted to be first coming into the finish, and the team did a great job to put me in position.”