Fair game or unnecessary? The dark arts of blocking the road

The last couple of commissaires’ reports from the 2019 Tour de France have contained a couple of interesting sanctions. Amid the usual fines for illegal feeds and overly public toilet stops, we’ve seen the UCI reach deep into its regulations for Article 2.12.007/6.1: ‘Obstruction from a rider to stop the progress of another rider’.

After Monday’s stage 10 to Albi, George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) and Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-QuickStep) were each fined 500 CHF – as well as being docked 10 seconds and six points – for obstructing Chad Haga (Team Sunweb).

On Wednesday, after getting hold of more video footage, the UCI decided to issue Lampaert’s teammate, Kasper Asgreen, with the same punishment for a similar incident on Haga’s teammate Cees Bol on the same day. In addition, three directeurs sportifs – Tom Steels (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Nico Verhoeven (Jumbo-Visma) and Philippe Mauduit (Groupama-FDJ) were given official warnings regarding the same matter.

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The practice in question is that of ‘blocking the road’, whereby teams try to prevent attacks from the peloton by taking up as much space as possible on the front row. It usually occurs in the opening kilometres, when a breakaway forms and the controlling forces in the peloton – on flat stages, these are the sprinters’ teams – want to settle down for the day instead of reacting to new waves of attacks.

Maxime Monfort on the front of the Tour de France peloton
Maxime Monfort on the front of the Tour de France peloton (Getty Images)

“It’s a new tactic that I didn’t know existed,” CCC Team manager Jim Ochowicz told Cyclingnews, explaining that the relative lack of abandons at this Tour has been a contributing factor.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com