• Team Jumbo-Visma directeur-sportif Merijn Zeeman. (teamjumbovisma.com)Source: teamjumbovisma.com
Team Jumbo-Visma have released a statement addressing directeur-sportif Merijn Zeeman's expulsion following Stage 18 of the Tour de France, claiming rider Primož Roglič's bike was damaged in the check that led to the altercation with a UCI official.
By
SBS Cycling Central

18 Sep 2020 - 12:56 PM  UPDATED 18 Sep 2020 - 7:12 PM

Yellow jersey leader Roglič's bike was checked for technological fraud following Stage 17, during which Zeeman became involved in a heated discussion with one of the UCI officials over the manner in which it was being conducted.

The jury report released after Stage 18 cited Zeeman for 'intimidation, insults, improper behavior by a member of a team towards a UCI official during the bicycle check carried out at the end of stage 17,' in accordance with article 8.2.2 of the UCI guidelines.

Jumbo-Visma director Zeeman kicked out of Tour for misconduct
Team Jumbo-Visma will be without directeur-sportif Merijn Zeeman for the rest of the 2020 Tour de France, after he was expelled from the race following an altercation with a UCI official during a bike check after Stage 17.

Jumbo-Visma acknowledged that Zeeman's behaviour warranted the expulsion and that the check presented no evidence of foul play with Roglič's bike, despite it needing a part to be replaced as a result of the assessment.

'A discussion arose with the UCI employee in question when the crankset of the bike was dismounted,' The statement posted on the team's website read. 'The bike was damaged and the crankset had to be replaced afterwards.'

'The altercation that took place during that check gave the UCI a reason to sanction Merijn severely. Merijn made his apologies on the spot and, just like the team, regrets that the discussion has become so heated.'

'To be clear: the check showed that the bike of GC leader Roglic was in accordance with the regulations.'

The team also provided comments about the situation from Zeeman, who was apologetic but of the belief that the bike check was done unreasonably to obtain the necessary result.

“I got angry when the commissioner dismounted the crankset from Primoz's bike," Zeeman said.

"We stand for a fair sport and that includes checks, but that must be done in a reasonable way."

Despite that, I should have kept myself cool and approached the UCI commissioner in a more respectful way.” 

Zeeman will now remain with the team for the remaining three stages of the Tour, but is prohibited from performing official functions as a member of staff during the rest of the race.

The 2020 Tour de France continues with the 166km Stage 19 from Bourg-en-Bresse to Champagnole that could decide the green jersey. Watch on SBS HD and SBS On Demand from 9:30pm AEST and the SBS ŠKODA Tour Tracker from 9:20pm AEST.