Nils Eekhoff (Netherlands) appeared to take the biggest win of his young career as he sprinted out of a select group of riders. However, after the race, Eekhoff was summoned to face the race jury and shown the footage of him drafting behind the Netherlands team car after returning from a crash with 130 kilometres to go.
He was subsequently disqualified from the race, elevating second-placed Samuele Battistella (Italy) to the gold medal and rainbow jersey.
Outcry from many in the cycling community followed and the rider agency that works for Eekhoff, SEG Cycling, even hinted at the possibility of legal action in a communication with Cyclingnews, saying: "Together with Team Sunweb we'll research the situation and the legal options we've to defend Nils and make sure he gets the rainbow jersey that he deserves. Our legal department is currently studying the case."
The Union Cycliste International (UCI) released a statement detailing the breach of the rules by Eekhoff and the Dutch team car, as well as footage of the incident not included in the race coverage.
"The rider was disqualified for sheltering behind a vehicle (4.7 of article 2.12.007) for over 2 minutes. The maximum sanction provided by the article was considered appropriate due to the time spent sheltering," read the accompanying statement.
"The decision was taken by the commissaires' panel after the race based on images from a moto camera available to the UCI video commissaire. Race officials have reviewed the images, followed due process by hearing the rider and team before making the decision.
Also, the race communique lists two other riders disqualified under the same article and according to the same process. As the world governing body of cycling the UCI is deeply committed to ensure the integrity of cycling and the fairness on the field of play."
"I crashed, got a dislocated shoulder, put it back, but also had a mechanical so it took longer," Eekhoff told reporters after the sanction back at the Dutch team hotel. "Then I got back on, the car brought me back to the caravan, and at that moment I rode myself towards the peloton.
"At the moment I crashed, it was still 125km to go. The race was still to be ridden. In my opinion, I fought for it. It should be possible after a crash that you can be brought back to the caravan. I had no idea I was taking a risk."
There is little precedent for a race jury's decision being overturned or appealed, though there might be recourse through the Court of Arbitration for Sport.