More than 30 cyclists were disqualified from the under-23 Giro d’Italia after they allegedly broke the rules of the race.
Cameras captured the riders grabbing onto team cars and motorbikes during the climb of the Passo dello Stelvio. The infamous stage of the race involves a steep climb up the mountain.
After a race jury reviewed videos filmed by fans, it disqualified 24 cyclists. After further review Thursday morning, an additional seven riders were disqualified.
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Wednesday’s fourth leg was the “queen stage” of the race, which has been rebranded as the Giro Next Gen. It ended with the prestigious and difficult ascent of the Stelvio.
Fans lined the sides of the climb, and the riders appeared not to notice they were being filmed as they appeared to break the rules, some chatting and laughing among themselves as they clung to the sides and back of team cars.
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Of the riders disqualified, 24 were Italian and seven were foreign, including Belgian cyclist Tijl De Decker, who won this year’s Paris-Roubaix Under 23. Four team staff members and their team cars were also excluded from the race.
“What we saw was really offensive to those who correctly interpret this sport,” Italian Cycling Federation President Cordiano Dagnoni said Thursday. “They are images that really hurt.
“It’s right to apply the rules, and I’m, above all, disappointed by the behavior of the sporting directors in the team cars because they should be the first to teach the youngsters how to respect the rules.”
The riders and teams could face further punishment from the federation or even the International Cycling Union.
The ASD GC Sissio team had four of its five riders ruled out, while fellow Italian teams Ciclistica Rostese and Technipes lost three riders each.
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“I asked (race organizers) RCS Sport to invite at least half Italian teams,” Dagnoni said. “At this point, having seen the behavior of our teams and of our cyclists, I no longer feel like recommending they be invited in the future. I will leave RCS Sport free to invite teams at their discretion.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.