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The UCI on Saturday released additional information, including a video clip, to explain its disqualification of Nils Eekhoff during Friday’s Under-23 men’s road race championship. The video clip is included in this story.
Eekhoff initially won the event, but was later disqualified for drafting behind the Dutch team car after he crashed into a parked car with 130-kilometers remaining in the race. Eekhoff was able to rejoin the race after his crash, and then went on to attack into the front group in the final kilometers of the race, and win the sprint in downtown Harrogate.
According to a release from the UCI, the race jury decided on disqualification—the maximum penalty for a drafting infraction—after examining a video clip that showed Eekhoff drafting for more than two minutes behind the car.
“The maximum sanction provided by the article was considered appropriate due to the time spent sheltering,” read a statement provided by the UCI. “The decision was taken by the commissaires’ panel after the race based on images from a moto camera available to the UCI video commissaire. Race officials have reviewed the images, followed due process by hearing the rider and team before making the decision.”
According to the release, Eekhoff’s drafting violated a written rule (4.7 of article 2.12.007 in the UCI rulebook), which concerns “Sheltering behind or taking advantage of the slipstream of a vehicle.”
In many cases, violation of the drafting rules results in a fine, paid by the rider or the team. However, the article grants the UCI Commissare’s Panel the power to disqualify a rider, should the drafting be deemed to be too “serious.”
“In addition to the above provisions, in serious cases, in cases of repeated infringement or aggravating circumstances, the Commissaires’ Panel may eliminate or disqualify a rider and/or exclude a license holder,” the clause reads.
Eekhoff was in tears following the ruling, which took more than 15 minutes to be decided after the finish. The judgement gave the world title to Italian Samuele Battistella, who was second in the sprint.
After the race, Eekhoff went to social media to protest the ruling.
“To hear they DQ me, was/is a big shock to me,” Eekhoff wrote. “I understand the rules of cycling, but truly think this decision is inappropriate.”