TOLEDO, Spain (Reuters) - Movistar’s Sporting Director accused cycling’s governing body of favouring Vuelta a Espana leader Primoz Roglic on Friday after the Slovenian was allowed to use a car’s slipstream to catch up with the peloton after a crash.
The issue arose just over 100km into the rain-affected 19th stage from Avila to Toledo when a group including Roglic and fourth-placed Miguel Angel Lopez crashed heavily on a descent.
Roglic’s team mate Tony Martin was forced to abandon the race following the incident.
“If this is cycling and the (governing body) UCI decides who is going to win, well perfect,” Movistar’s Jose Luis Arrieta said.
“This kind of thing has happened to us and they didn’t take this decision.”
The UCI did not immediately respond to a request from Reuters for comment.
Cycling etiquette dictates that if a race leader suffers a crash or mechanical problem then the rest of the race waits for him to recover and rejoin the peloton.
In this instance, immediately after Roglic hit the deck Movistar attacked, drawing fierce criticism from commentators and other members of the peloton.
Roglic and Lopez were then led back to the main group by drafting in the slipstreams of team cars, which is not permitted under normal circumstances.
The 48-year-old Arrieta said that his team had always planned to attack following the short downhill and that their positioning in the peloton was justification for their manoeuvre.
“We were always going to attack where the crosswinds would come into play and we were at the head of the pack for a reason. We spent hours and hours doing recons,” he said.
“Obviously I don’t like crashes but we’ve lost races because of crashes. I told them to stop only when the UCI said that they would allow riders to use the cars to catch up.”
Movistar riders Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana are second and third respectively, and it was Valverde who relayed the order for the rest of his team mates to slow down as Roglic and Lopez rejoined the main peloton.
Reporting by Joseph Cassinelli; Editing by Toby Davis