Tour de France | Here's What Lance Armstrong Thinks About The Decision to Disqualify Peter Sagan
"My sense is that Peter Sagan is not a dirty rider..."
Say what you want about Lance Armstrong – and we’re guessing not all of it would be nice – but the man knows the Tour de France.
Armstrong, in case you have been living under a soundproofed rock with no media access for the past 20 years, won seven consecutive Tour de France titles from 1999 to 2005 before getting them all stripped in 2012 for doping offences that also saw him banned for life from sanctioned Olympic Sports.
So he might not have the best morals in the world, but, again, the man knows his cycling – and this year he’s made a return to the Tour de France… in the form of a podcast he’s been running on Facebook Live and online after every stage of the race.
Unsurprisingly, the man has some seriously interesting insight about the race, and as someone who knows more than most about the ins and outs of the rules of the Tour – we imagine he’s done some fine reading of the terms and conditions – we were interested to hear what he had to say about the disqualification of Peter Sagan for bringing down Mark Cavendish in the final sprint of stage four of the race.
Safe to say he strongly disagrees with the decision to DQ the World Champion. Speaking on ‘Stage 4’ of his Stages Podcast, Armstrong said:
“I disagree with that [decision to DQ Peter Sagan]. Relegated yes, disqualified, no. I don’t agree with that. And I’m not a fanboy, I’m not in his pocket, I just don’t agree with that. It’s huge.
“This is what is so crazy about these stages. You can literally fall asleep for three or four hours and then there’s huge controversy. All hell breaks loose.
“Controversy is a great word because I don’t think that anybody will agree on this one. We watched it and re-watched it and watched the slow-mo and watched the overhead but we’re not all going to agree with this.
“In these crazy sprint finishes where the road is narrow and it’s early in the race, these boys are fresh, they’re hungry for a stage win, they’ll do anything. I guess what really happened was that 1km before the crash everyone was talking about, there was another crash that left a 20-man race with 200m to go. That close to the line the sprint is on already.
“The rules state that once the sprint starts you have to ‘hold your line. Go straight’. Issue number one is did he hold his line? Issue two is did he throw an elbow at Cav? Then there’s also the issue of whether Cavendish was going to a place that wasn’t going to open?
“If you move off the line and the rule says don’t move off the line, you get relegated. The elbow is what gets you kicked out of the Tour. To me the elbow came after. Cavendish was already on his way to the ground. It would be another thing if clearly the elbow caused him either to go into the barrier or crash. Sagan sprints – he’s always got the elbows out. You want to be bowed up because you want space and if you’re not bowed up someone’s going to take your space.
“I’m talking like I’ve been there but I would never, ever be in with that crowd! But I am 100 percent sure that the elbow did not cause that crash. Is he trying to stabilise? Get his balance? That’s the big debate.
“That part of the sport, the sprinters, there’s guys that are clean – and when I say clean I mean that don’t throw elbows, and then there are guys that are dirty and would throw a foot out and kick you if they could. My sense is that Peter Sagan is not a dirty rider. If he had that reputation of being dirty, mean and nasty, then that might make this incident look a little different.
“We all saw him go straight to Mark Cavendish’s bus after the incident, and you could say that was political but I don’t think so – and you heard Cavendish say ‘I get along with Peter Sagan’.
“But I’m not a sprinter – I don’t know that game – my spot was 50 spots back trying to avoid things like that. I will say with 100 percent conviction though, the elbow is not what caused the crash. It looks in our eyes like it did live in real time but it didn’t. Cavendish was already going down.
“I can tell you that that kind of decision just breeds inconsistency."