Cycling is just about wrapping up its preseason; the peloton is scattered across the Middle East, Southern Europe, and anywhere else with vaguely hospitable weather. The Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol has both too many names for one race, and also a decent crop of riders. Teejay Van Garderen took the lead today, and it’s generally been a fun little race. A few days ago, French sprinter Nacer Bouhanni won Stage 2, which featured a somewhat tricky 6 km climb 23 km before the flat finish in Cordoba.
Bouhanni isn’t a very good climber, so it’s a bit notable that he managed to get to the line with the lead group. However, Bouhanni was promptly accused by Giant-Alpecin’s German climber Simon Geschke of being pushed up the climb by his Cofidis teammates.
Cyclists get pushed by managers and teammates all the time, but it’s usually after stopping to fix a mechanical or taking a bathroom break. In fact, every race, guys hang onto their team cars and get free rides after a crash or while they’re getting medical attention. Vincenzo Nibali got kicked out of the Vuelta a España last year for getting towed up to the front.
Bouhanni’s alleged push isn’t quite that bad, but it’s technically illegal, and Geschke has a point. Part of what makes stages with late monkey-wrench climbs so interesting is whether or not the sprinters can survive. Some of the most entertaining finishes in cycling are ones where a single escapee holds off a charging peloton full of sprinters.
Of course, if this happened in the Tour de France or another big race, Bouhanni would have been booted almost immediately after the stage finish.
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