Crosswinds were expected to break apart the early kilometers of Scheldeprijs. Instead, a railroad crossing whittled down the peloton in Wednesday’s Belgian one-day race.
About midway through the 200-kilometer race from Terneuzen to Schoten, a sizeable group of riders slipped through a level crossing, beneath the crossing arms as they were being lowered. The group rode on but was soon caught by the race jury.
Despite protests from the riders, they were all disqualified from the race.
Frenchman Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) and Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) were two of the most notable riders pulled from the race. As Scheldeprijs often finishes with a bunch sprint, they were both favored to win.
Groenewegen was upset that his group was kicked off the race when he suggested that the group just ahead had also ridden through the railway crossing when the lights started flashing.
“I am very disappointed in how it went. I can understand the decision of the jury to take a group of riders off course. You also do not need to continue driving when the lights come on,” he said. “The fact is that the first group also passed on. Moreover, we were going 60kph. If you then go into the brakes, chances are that it goes wrong. I am in favor of recording time differences in such cases, so that driving at railway crossings is nipped in the bud. ”
Tony Martin, the Katusha-Alpecin teammate of defending champion Marcel Kittel, was kicked out as well.
Race winner Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step) said he did not know the riders were disqualified.
“We were in the group ahead, and we heard it on the radio that a train was coming,” Jakobsen said. “It’s too bad for them that they were taken out of the race like that, but it’s also the rules.”
Alexander Cataford (UnitedHealthcare) also didn’t know about the disqualifications or the nasty crash involving some of his teammates until he got the line.
“I was up in the breakaway in the early part of the race,” Cataford said. “It was really chaotic at the start, with attacks and crosswinds. We wanted to be present in the move, so that was good.”
Full list of riders disqualified (also 100CHF fine):
Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin)
Rudger Selig (Bora-Hansgrohe)
Lars Bak (Lotto-Soudal)
Dylan Groenewegen, Timo Roosen, Amund Jansen (LottoNL-Jumbo)
Christian Knees, Ian Stannard (Team Sky)
Lennard Hofstede, Roy Curvers (Sunweb)
Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ)
Riccardo Minali, Hugo Houle (Astana)
Kim Magnusson (EF-Drapac)
Conor Dunne (Aqua Blue)
Michael Van Staeyen, Jimmy Turgis (Cofidis)
Michael Svengaard, Florian Vachon (Fortuneo)
Sjoerd Van Ginneken (Rommpot)
Amaury Capiot, Jordi Warlop (Sport Vlaanderen)
Dries De Bondt, Mathias De Witte (Verandas)
Kris Boeckmans, Steven Lammertink (Vital Concept)
Wesley Kreder, Kevin Van Melsen (Wanty Groupe)
Jimmy Duquennoy (Aqua Project)
Tanner Putt (UHC)
Michael Paluta, Jonas Koch, Adrian Kurek, Patryk Stosz (CCC)