The new women’s World Champion, Annemiek van Vleuten was on the receiving end of a pair of fines shortly after her win in Wollongong. The Dutch star took the win with an impressive final attack that caught out riders waiting for the ideal time to sprint. With her fractured elbow wrapped up, Van Vleuten managed to contravene 2 rules in her winning ride.
Early on, Van Vleuten dropped back to the coach’s car and was seen back in the convoy of cars at a relatively easy moment of racing. At the time, I thought it was an ominous sign that the elbow was too painful and that maybe an ideal time to finish her ride was being discussed. In actual fact, the race commissaire had noted that Annemiek van Vleuten wasn’t wearing quite the same kit design as her Dutch teammates.
This stipulates a broken rule that was quickly fixed by getting Annemiek to put on another jersey on top of her skinsuit. The skinsuit was new and in theory the most aerodynamic kit available to the Dutch team. The version she lined up with looked like an adapted, naively cut version of what Van Vleuten wore in the time trial and crashed in. The fine for this was 500 CHF.
Plenty of watchers on Twitter noted the length of Van Vleuten’s sock during the race. They looked particularly long and we know that the UCI infamously likes to check sock height. Her sock during the World Championships came to close to the kneecap, whereas the rule stipulates it must be halfway at the most. There’s a small aerodynamic advantage, which in turn offsets some of the aerodynamic losses from having to wear the extra jersey.
Obviously, that wasn’t known at the start of the day but there was a clear attempt to maximise the aerodynamic efficiency to hopefully make up for her struggles with the elbow. The fine for the socks was 200 CHF. This punishment doesn’t quite fit the penalties listed in the UCI regulations which say elimination or disqualification. We saw in Harrogate in 2019 that the UCI isn’t against DSQing a winning World Champion, with Nils Eekhoff the unlucky rider that day for excessive drafting.
Main photo credit: Sprint Cycling Agency / Movistar