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Tour of Flanders: UCI ejects Michael Schär for illegal bottle toss

Old habits prove hard to change for pros as UCI commissaires eject Michael Schär for illegal bottle toss.

The UCI ejected Swiss veteran Michael Schär (Ag2r-Citroën) from Sunday’s Tour of Flanders for tossing a water bottle outside of a designated litter zone.

The move reveals how serious the cycling governing body is taking its new rules which came into effect on April 1, and reflected how it might take the peloton some time to change old habits.

Also read: Kasper Asgreen wins Tour of Flanders

According to a replay of the incident, Schär was dangling off the back of the main bunch after suffering a mechanical issue with about 100km to go when he tossed a water bottle toward some fans alongside the road. Schär had a TV motorcycle trailing him, and seemed to quickly realize his mistake moments after tossing aside the bottle.

That move was a red card for in-race commissaires. As soon as Schär chased back to the bunch, officials notified the key helper to Greg Van Avermaet, who later finished third, he was out of the race.

During stage races, a similar incident would trigger time penalties. Officials said before the race that infractions in one-day races could result in disqualification.

The new rule is part of a new packet of safety measures rolled out by the UCI this spring that also includes a ban on the “super-tuck” position as well as a host of other steps that also include sturdier race banners and more safety signage along the race route.

Also read: UCI rolls out new safety rules 

The water bottle rule is meant to limit litter and trash along the course, but also reduce the risk of water bottles bouncing around in the peloton. Riders have crashed after striking a water bottle that bounced back into the pack, including Geraint Thomas during last year’s Giro d’Italia.

Some were wondering why riders who tossed aside bottles in the closing kilometers Sunday were not sanctioned, but those bottles were discarded inside one of the designated “trash” zones on the route.

Earlier during the race, two riders — Yevgeniy Fedorov (Astana) and Otto Vergaerde (Alpecin-Fenix) — were ejected after what commissaires referring to as “dangerous riding.” The two riders were bumping shoulders and yelling at each other.