This year’s Postnord Vårgårda WestSweden saw a controversial ending. Marianne Vos looked to have won the race, she certainly crossed the line first with her arms in the arm, but 20 minutes later we had a new winner. The Dutch star was confirmed as being disqualified and so Audrey Cordon-Ragot was declared the winner instead.
Vos initially got away thanks to an attack from Cordon-Ragot, which saw Team DSM’s Pfeiffer Georgi marking the move for team leader Lorena Wiebes and Liv Racing Xstra’s Valerie Demey. The foursome was able to keep the peloton at bay, enough to contest the finish amongst their group. Georgi sat on the group for most of the way, insurance in case they weren’t brought back for a bunch sprint. And she launched her own attack late on. This was marked and Georgi was pinned to the front going under the flamme rouge.
The Brit kept a watchful eye but it was Audrey Cordon-Ragot who launched her sprint first and went long. Vos was able to get onto her wheel and come round with plenty of time before the line. Cordon-Ragot was strong enough to hang on for what was 2nd at the time, ahead of Georgi in 3rd. Those positions would become very important in a short amount of time. Demey was a distant 4th having yo-yoed on and off the group late on.
The podium ceremony was delayed and with the cameras still rolling, we saw the full situation. A UCI official first points out there may be an issue. Marianne Vos’ dad shows her the issue and then another UCI official informs Vos that the race she won, will no longer see her as the winner. Audrey Cordon-Ragot, Pfeiffer Georgi and Valerie Demey made up the new podium.
Stine Borgli animates the early race
The Norwegian FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope rider Stine Borgli was a solo break for a long period early on in the race. No-one joined her move and she was forced to work alone off the front. There were attempts to counter-attack later and bridge across to Borgli but these were always marked by the peloton. The gravel sections didn’t decide the race, even if we did see some splits in the peloton.
Marianne Vos gets disqualified
Team DSM were desperate to keep control of the peloton, with a sprint for Lorena Wiebes their prime goal. Cordon-Ragot’s attack altered some of that. The group worked well but it was Vos’ momentary lapse, where she got into the ‘puppy paws’ position on the handlebars that saw things change later. Also known as ‘virtual time trial bars’ the position was banned by the UCI at the start of last year due to safety concerns.
At the time, the race carried on and it was only afterwards that the race commissaires decided to punish the Dutch rider. This thereby affected the race in the meantime and ultimately affected the result in an unfair way. Chances are, without Vos, the break would be caught and we see a bunch sprint.
The UCI were correct, to the letter of the rules to enforce the disqualification but the slowness to react and timing were far from ideal in this situation.
“It sucks, but it makes no difference, as I lay in that puppy paw position, I realised after a few seconds that it wasn’t allowed. Then I transferred to the correct posture as quickly as possible. Apparently it was enough for the UCI to disqualify me. We will have to accept that.
It’s a shame, but it’s a rule. That rule is strictly enforced. I’m disappointed because it didn’t benefit me, but rules are rules.
It went very well today. It took a while to get back on track. The past week was all about recovering from the Tour. Then you suddenly find yourself in the hectic pace of a race. The team helped me a lot to get back into it. We were alert and had a good position in front. I’m happy with the way we rode this race.”Marianne Vos