LACAVE, France (AP) Cycling’s governing body on Friday overturned the decision from the Tour de France jury to give Rigoberto Uran and George Bennett time penalties for grabbing bottles from the side of the road in the closing stages of Thursday’s 12th stage.
Cannondale-Drapac team boss Jonathan Vaughters told The Associated Press he was informed of the UCI’s decision Friday morning, ahead of the start of Stage 13.
Uran, who rides for Vaughters’ team, was handed a 20-second time penalty for accepting a water bottle in the last five kilometers (3 miles) of Thursday’s stage, which is not allowed by UCI rules.
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The Colombian rider was in fourth place overall, 55 seconds behind race leader Fabio Aru of Italy, meaning that his deficit should now be reduced to 35 seconds.
Uran’s time penalty caused vigorous protest from Vaughters, after Frenchman Romain Bardet escaped similar punishment despite a video seemingly clearly showing that he too grabbed a bottle and drank from it.
Bardet won Stage 12 just ahead of Uran and is third in the standings, 25 seconds behind Aru.
UCI rules state that ”feeding is prohibited on climbs, descents and during the first 50 and last 20 (kilometers).” The jury said that Bennett was penalized for taking a bottle 6.4 kilometers from the finish and Uran was sanctioned for his illegal feed in the last five kilometers.
The UCI, however, acknowledged in a statement Friday that, due to blocked vehicles, the ”inability of teams to resupply their riders before the last climb” led its panel to ”annul the penalties imposed” on Uran, Bennett and Belgian rider Serge Pauwels (Team Dimension Data).
Vaughters said he was ”incredibly surprised” by the UCI’s decision to reverse the ruling.
”I want to say `Chapeau’ to them and say thank you,” he added. ”I never saw the UCI came back on a decision before.”
New Zealander Bennett, who rides for Team Lotto NL, was in ninth place overall but more than four minutes behind Aru heading into stage 13.