Yesterday, the Norwegian edition of Procycling, procycling.no, published a story from Glava Tour of Norway. The Glava Tour of Norway, a 2.2 race where many Pro Conti teams participated, took place this weekend in Norway.
The bearer of the polka-dot jersey, Swede and member of Team Sparebanken Vest-Ridley Christofer Stevenson, was allegedly obstructed by a competing team several times. This made him lose the battle for the KOM jersey. At the time, Stevenson fought with Joker Merida rider Stian Remme for the jersey, and the intermediate mountain points were key.
|Before the final stage, Christofer (left) poses with his brother Michael|
Photo by Jarle Fredagsvik, procycling.no downloaded here.
According to Stevenson himself, happening just before the final mountain sprint, he was first "surrounded" by two Joker Merida riders just before a turn, where one them forced himself in front of Stevenson, apparently leaving Stevenson with two choices; out in the ditch or hit the brakes. Stevenson hit the brakes, lost Remme's wheel and had to start all over again. Just as Stevenson began to sprint, he felt an elbow or a hand restraining him by holding his hip, making it impossible to sprint properly. The result was that Remme won the final intermediate KOM sprint while Stevenson finished 4th or 5th. Remme won the overall KOM competition.
A furious Stevenson drifted back the UCI commissaries, who didn't notice the episode from their car. After finishing the stage, a video analysis of the incident didn't reveal any irregularities. Stevenson's brother, riding for a different team, confirms the episode as he allegedly saw it take place. The episode resulted in Stevenson writing an angry post on his blog, saying that "what Joker Merida did was as bad as doping".
The Joker Merida DS, Gino van Oudhove, said to procycling.no that he didn't realised any irregularities during the episodes and feels the riders and staff representing Sparebanken Vest have handled the incident "in a ridicules way". Riders on Joker Merida denies having done anything wrong.
All or nothing?
What can we learn from this episode, is it possible to reach a conclusion? Probably not. At some point, all that is left is word against word, and I don't know whose words you like best.
I got to thinking, does this happen in the PRO peloton in the World Tour? We are accustomed to see riders from different teams shake hands as the brake away gets swallowed by the peloton, but what happens in the bunch? In my opinion, it is a very different thing to use team tactics to neutralise intermediate sprints, as we have seen in the tour, to hold a rider back physically.
Do you know any episodes from the PRO peloton, please do comment.