On what had been an otherwise excruciatingly uneventful Stage 8 turned chaotic and controversial nearly 30 minutes after riders crossed the finish line as the race jury awarded Bora’s Pascal Ackermann the stage victory. On the road, Sam Bennett had claimed his 50th career victory and Deceuninck-Quickstep’s 100th grand tour stage, outfoxing the likes of Ackermann and Gerben Thijssen (Lotto Soudal). Upon discussion, the race jury relegated Bennett for argy-bargy behaviour towards a Trek-Segafredo rider inside the final kilometre. The top ten on general classification remained unchanged.
With racing not engaged until the final five kilometres, today’s stage looked set to be drama free. Even when Sam Bennett chose to celebrate prior to crossing the line, triggering PTSD for some fans, everything appeared to be in fine order as he was declared the winner. Then, chaos struck.
With the podium celebrations delayed, it came to light that the race jury was investigating Bennett for shoulder-checking a Trek-Segafredo rider, who was trying to nudge his way into the Quickstepper’s leadout, under the flamme rouge. Here’s a better look at the overhead shot:
Nearly half an hour after the stage concluded, the race jury announced Bennett had been relegated and the stage was awarded to Pascal Ackermann.
There has been lots of discussion regarding sprint safety this season and the lack of consistency in which race juries issue penalties. While I am not personally convinced Sam’s movement warranted a relegation, today’s decision ignites this discussion on fairness and written versus unwritten rules once again.
It also reignited Patrick Lefevere’s Twitter of Rage™. But beware, Patrick, Luca Guercilena is ready for an online rumble!
What’s the resolution to this outrage? There isn’t one. Until the UCI steps in with hardline rules and reduce the level of jury discretion that we have in place today, these situations will continue. Perhaps it is what makes this sport so great. After all, if cycling were drama free and had no controversy, what would Lefevere have to tweet about? What would all of us tweet about?
A Long Day
After a gruelling day in the mountains on Stage 8, the peloton was more than ready for a leisurely ride under the sun on flat terrain. With no categorised climbs on tap, the day was always going to result in a bunch sprint. There were just 152 kilometres of roads to cover before any excitement occurred.
A breakaway of just two men — Aritz Bagües of Caja Rural and Juan Felipe Osorio from Burgos BH — bravely rode themselves clear of the peloton, undoubtedly with expectations no greater than generating hours of TV coverage for their sponsors. Back in the peloton, teams bunched themselves across the road as riders engaged in casual chitchat with each other under the sunny skies of Spain.
Meanwhile, in the commentary boxes, Sean Kelly and Carlton Kirby were left to discuss the many churches and monasteries that lined the route.
There were also some important dates for a few riders today. Happy birthday, Primoz, and happy anniversary from Dan to his wife!
The Last Word
Stage 8 Results
1 Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) 3:39:55
2 Gerben Thijssen (Lotto Soudal) same time
3 Max Kanter (Team Sunweb) s/t
4 Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates) s/t
5 Jakub Mareczko (CCC Team) s/t
GC Top 10
1 Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) 36:11:01
2 Primoz Roglic (Jumbo Visma) +0:13
3 Dan Martin (Israel Start Up) +0:28
4 Hugh Carthy (EF Pro Cycling) +0:44
5 Enric Mas (Movistar) +1:54
6 Felix Grossschartner (BORA-hansgrohe) +3:28
7 Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) same time
8 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +3:35
9 Marc Soler (Movistar)+3:40
10 Wout Poels Bahrain-McLaren) +3:47
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers)
Points jersey Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma)
King of the Mountains Guillaume Martin (Cofidis)
Best Young Rider Enric Mas (Movistar)
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Official race website: Vuelta a Espana
Header: ©GETTY/Velo/Justin Setterfield