“Having considered video footage that was not available at the time…”
The UCI and Peter Sagan have put an end to their legal dispute over the Slovakian road cyclist’s disqualification from the 2017 Tour de France, with the governing body conceding that Sagan’s crash with Mark Cavendish was in fact “an unfortunate and unintentional race incident”.
They also add that “the UCI commissaires made their decision based on their best judgment in the circumstances,” but nevertheless, ultimately they got it wrong.
Sagan was disqualified after the sprint finish of stage four, in which he appeared to deliberately elbow Cavendish, causing him to crash and sustain injuries severe enough to force him to withdraw from the race.
Cavendish was lining up for the final sprint on the wheel of eventual stage-winner Arnaud Demare when Sagan drifted right, apparently being forced to do so by skidding from Andre Greipel.
Sagan then appeared to stick out his elbow, causing Cavendish to crash into the barriers and break his shoulder as Sagan rode on to finish in second place on the stage.
Sagan’s team Bora-Hansgrohe made a statement after the five-time green jersey winner was DQ’d, claiming Peter “stayed on his line in the sprint and could not see Cavendish on the right side.”
Sagan said in a statement at the time: ‘“In the sprint I didn’t know that Mark Cavendish was behind me. He was coming from the right side, and I was trying to go on Kristoff’s wheel. Mark was coming really fast from the back and I just didn’t have time to react and to go left.”
Sagan was denied the opportunity of equalling Erik Zabel’s record of six successive green jerseys in a row because of the call, which the UCI – having viewed new video evidence which was not available at the time – now admit was wrong.
A joint press release from Bora-Hansgrohe and the UCI read: “Having considered the materials submitted in the CAS proceedings, including video footage that was not available at the time when the race jury had disqualified Peter Sagan, the parties agreed that the crash was an unfortunate and unintentional race incident and that the UCI commissaires made their decision based on their best judgment in the circumstances.”
The call comes in advance of the scheduled hearing of the dispute at the Court of Arbitration for sport, which will no longer take place.
The new president of the UCI, David Lappartient, has also said that on the back of this, the 2018 World Tour races will use extra video resources.
“These proceedings have shown how important and arduous the work of the UCI Commissaires is,” Lappartient said. “As of next season the UCI intends to engage a ‘Support Commissaire’ to assist the Commissaires Panel with special video expertise on the main events of the UCI World Tour.”
Sagan meanwhile said: “The past is already forgotten. It’s all about improving our sport in the future. I welcome the fact that what happened to me in Vittel has showed that the UCI Commissaires’ work is a difficult one and that the UCI has recognised the need to facilitate their work in a more effective way.
“I am happy that my case will lead to positive developments, because it is important for our sport to make fair and comprehensible decisions, even if emotions are sometimes heated.”