Mikel Landa, Hugh Carthy benefit most as UCI drop Tirreno-Adriatico penalties

 Wout van Aert cuts inside a bollard during stage 6 of Tirreno-Adriatico to find some smooth surface

Wout van Aert cuts inside a bollard during stage 6 of Tirreno-Adriatico to find some smooth surface

The UCI backtracked on a decision to punish six riders with a 20-second time penalty for riding briefly on a sidewalk during stage 6 of Tirreno-Adriatico. The time penalty would have significantly changed the top 10 in the general classification and impacted the final UCI ranking points of the race in a double-whammy punishment.

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Hugh Carthy (EF Education-EasyPost), Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious), Gianni Vermeersch (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Mike Teunissen and Georg Zimmerman (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) were punished after Saturday’s sixth stage to Osimo for “Use of sidewalks/pavements, paths or cycle lanes that do not form part of the race route.”

Photographers and broadcasters caught a moment when several riders cut inside a bollard on the final climb up to the finish to try to find a smoother road surface. It is unknown if the UCI jury used the relatively new VAR (Video Assistant Referee) to identify and punish the riders.

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Riders were given a 500 Swiss Franc fine and docked 25 UCI ranking points, 14 points in the points classification, and 20 points in the Mountains classification under the UCI’s new more stringent rules.

They were also given a 20-second time penalty toward the overall standings. However, this would have sparked a double punishment for Landa and Carthy, demoting them in the final general classification. Landa faced a drop from seventh to 10th overall and Carthy a drop from eighth to 11th. Landa would have lost a further 65 UCI ranking points and Carthy 55 points.

Teams fought for every UCI ranking point during the 2022 season to avoid relegation from the WorldTour and they are conscious that every point won or lost during the next three seasons could decide their WorldTour fate in 2026.

The UCI eventually backtracked on the time punishment on Sunday morning before the start of stage 7 but didn’t make their decision public. Cyclingnews only found out when we contacted race organiser RCS Sport. The UCI informed teams of their change of heart via race radio early in the stage and Landa went on to finish seventh and Carthy eighth.

There is growing sentiment in the peloton and amongst race organisers that the UCI shows a lack of balance and understanding when applying the rules and issuing punishment.

Soudal-QuickStep team manager Patrick Lefevere suggested the UCI was perhaps ‘short of cash’ after the federation sanctioned Julian Alaphilippe for briefly removing his helmet during stage 4 of Tirreno-Adriatico as he removed his base layer.

“Wind in Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico, but I notice that it is also raining. The fines from the UCI are falling out of the blue this year,” Lefevere wrote in his weekly column for the Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad.