31 Giro Next Gen riders disqualified for holding on to cars up the Stelvio

Four sports directors and their vehicles have also been chucked off the race and fined.

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 15.06.2023 Photography by
Cor Vos
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31 riders have been disqualified from the Giro Next Gen, the new name for the Baby Giro, for holding on to cars during an ascent of the Stelvio.

The race’s new organisers, RCS Sport, who also run the Giro d’Italia, issued a communiqué just before 11pm the evening after the stage to announce two dozen riders had been kicked off the race while four sports directors and their race vehicles were also expelled (with no option of substituting another person and car in) and fined 100 CHF ($111) each. A further seven riders were excluded the morning after the stage for the same infraction, including  top sprinter Davide Persico and the American Artem Schmidt, who rides for Hagens Berman Axeon.

A video of the incident, published by Tuttobici, shows various groups of riders on the road either holding on to either race motorbikes or team cars, with one car having at least eight riders attached.

As one car approaches the person filming on their phone, whoever is behind the wheel tells the riders to let go, while others seem less bothered about being recorded. In between the cars carrying riders, others persist against the gradient, while some who have already finished can be seen descending back down the mountain.

One of the riders chucked off the race is Tijl De Decker of Lotto DSTNY’s development squad. In a statement, the team explained the reason their rider wouldn’t be starting the next day’s stage was “due to a youthful sin he won’t be committing again”, accompanied by a winky face emoji. Lotto DSTNY later told Sporza: “Our rider has made a mistake, he realises that. Tijl did not intend to do it, but says he has succumbed to peer pressure. The disappointment is very great with him.”

The reaction online to the recorded scenes has been fierce, with British Cycling Academy coach Matt Brammeier making his thoughts very clear.

“About time they kicked these filths out,” he tweeted. “I hope all involved are suitably embarrassed this morning. See this far too often. What a way to ‘develop’.”

This fourth stage of the race, culminating in the 21.9 km-long climb with an average gradient of 7 per cent, was won by the Norwegian Johannes Staune-Mittet of the Jumbo-Visma development team. The Frenchman Alexy Faure Prost finished second on the same time, while third place Irishman Darren Rafferty (Hagens Berman Axeon) moves up to second place overall behind Staune-Mittet, with four stages remaining and 136 riders left in the race.

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