• Richie Porte has suffered a major blow to his hopes of winning the Giro d'Italia after a decision by the race jury to dock him two minutes.
A late puncture, and an ensuing 47 second time loss, proved the least of Richie Porte's woes on Stage 10 of the Giro d'Italia after a review of race footage by the commissaires found the Australian had been unfairly assisted in obtaining a new wheel.
Cycling Central

20 May 2015 - 7:43 AM  UPDATED 20 May 2015 - 8:54 AM

Simon Clarke, who was with Porte when the puncture occurred but rides with Orica-GreenEDGE, offered the Australian his wheel as to hasten Porte's return to the peloton. That decision, the race jury ruled, was a breach of the rules, specifically; Article 12.1.040, "Non regulation assistance to a rider from another team, stage races."

Both Clarke and Porte were docked two minutes for the incident, compounding the losses Porte had already suffered on the stage after he failed to rejoin the peloton and finished 47 seconds in arrears. After the penalty he's now slipped from third to 12th overall, three minutes and nine seconds behind Contador, after going into the stage only 22 seconds behind.

Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford said the decision reflected a letter of the law interpretation of the rules, but was at odd with the spirit of them. He praised the quick-thinking of Porte, and the selflessness of the action and was bemused by Commissaires responses.

“Most people would accept that that was one of the most interesting, instinctive moments of fair play we’ve seen in sport for a long time, particularly in our sport, which has been a bit blighted by issues of unfair play," said Brailsford.

“However, there’s a lesson in there, isn’t there? That, it’s the letter of the law rather than the spirit of the law. We’ll keep fighting and hope we don’t get another puncture and just take it on the chin, I guess.”

While the Giro d'Italia itself initially praised Clarke's gesture in a social media post on twitter, it was quickly back-pedalling later on when reported fronted race director Mauro Vegni.

The Giro and cycling miss a positive opportunity
There are rules and there are rules but the one the Giro d’Italia organisers applied overnight, dishing out an unnecessarily punitive two-minute time penalty to Richie Porte, is a missed opportunity for cycling.

“(Sky have) maintained the penalty was unfair but that’s the rule and the commissaires have put out a communique where the rule is outlined clearly,” Vegni said. “For the first offence, it’s two minutes, for the second it’s five, for the third it’s ten and I believe for a fourth offence, the penalty is expulsion. So it’s not like they can say: ‘We’ll give you a discount, we’ll give you 1:30.’

“I hope they reflect on this matter and they realise that there has been no injustice here: a rule that has existed for a long time was applied to an incident in the race. I hope that when things calm down later this evening they’ll realise that the rule had to be applied.”

Riders, journalists, managers, vocal in support of Porte

The decision has been widely panned by riders, team managers, and pundits, with some pointing to commensurate incidents that went unpunished and others questioning the reasoning in enforcing it. 

Giro d'Italia broadcast details
SBS will broadcast every stage of the Giro d'Italia live. When possible, we will also live stream the race online here at Cycling Central before the television broadcast begins. In addition to morning highlights online, there will be highlights every day at 6pm on SBS 2.