Germany’s Pascal Ackermann on Thursday was declared winner of the ninth stage of the Vuelta a Espana after Sam Bennett was dramatically demoted for shoulder-barging in the final kilometer.
Bennett thought he had clinched his second stage win in Spain, but replays showed the infraction, leaving Ackermann to claim victory.
Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz of Ineos Grenadiers retained the overall lead.
Carapaz was 13 seconds ahead of Slovenia’s Primoz Roglic, with Ireland’s Dan Martin 28 seconds back in third place.
After crossing the line with his arms outstretched, Bennett said that it had been a “big fight” to secure what he thought was his 50th career victory.
“We had some guys nearly put us into the barriers trying to take the wheel, which was a bit sketchy, but we stayed upright,” Bennett said.
However, replays then showed what organizers decided amounted to “irregular sprinting” after Bennett twice barged into Emils Liepins, who had tried to slip into the Deceuninck-QuickStep train.
Ackermann believed the right decision was made.
“It wasn’t a fair action from him,” Ackermann said. “I think, after all the crashes in the last week, we have to take care of the other guys. If there is no gap, we have to stop. I feel sorry for Sam, but they took me out in Scheldeprijs and now we have to ride more fairly.”
“I’m really happy about this victory and also for my team, they did an awesome job today, they did it all from the front and I’m happy to give something back to them,” he said.
Deceuninck-QuickStep manager Patrick Lefevere vented his frustration on social media.
“What bullshit,” Lefevere wrote. “He was in his lead out and the @trek rider want to pull him out of it. But we know already a longtime the incompetence of the @Uci var safety first.”
At the halfway point in this year’s reduced 18-stage event, riders were presented with perhaps the flattest stage between Castrillo del Val and Aguilar de Campoo.
Bora-Hansgrohe and QuickStep made the biggest moves, with Bennett and Ackermann pulling away together with Jasper Philipsen in pursuit.
Bennett appeared to have timed his final surge to perfection, only for the video replays to cut him short.
Lotto-Soudal’s Gerben Thijssen came third to seal his second consecutive podium place in sprint stages.
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