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'I made a mistake' says Romain Bardet after Paris-Nice disqualification

Josh Cunningham
6 Mar 2017

Rider apologises after being kicked off the race for an illegal tow from his team car

Romain Bardet has apologised after being disqualified from Paris-Nice for taking an illegal tow from his team car when chasing back to the peloton after crashing. 

'We made a mistake due to the fact we weren’t thinking straight at a key moment in the stage, mainly as a result of my crash and the circumstances of a fantastic and animated stage,' Bardet said in a statement on the Ag2r team website. 'I am deeply sorry for my actions because nothing justifies taking advantage of the extensive assistance I received from the team car for mechanical repairs.'

The incident happened in the final stages of a dramatic opening stage of Paris-Nice, with Bardet having been part of a chase group, around 50 seconds down on the breakaway, that also contained other GC favourites Richie Porte and Simon Yates. Bardet crashed and did some visible damage to his hip, elbow, hand and knee, as TV cameras showed the Frenchman clearly riding alongside his teamcar while a mechanic leant out and tinkered with his bike. 

Like the infamous 'sticky bottle', this kind of help is commonplace when riders make their way back to the peloton after suffering problems, and Bardet addressed this in his statement too: 'This practice, too often tacitly accepted within the peloton, must now be guarded against in order to ensure the integrity of our sport.'

'This is the first time in 26 years that this has ever happened to me,' said the Ag2r team manager Vincent Lavenu. 'The decision may seem severe, but we respect it. The jury are the ones who guarantee the rules are applied equally to all in our sport.'

The disqualification comes as a big blow to Bardet, who was one of the favourites for the overall victory and - as a young Frenchman who finished second at the Tour de France last year - somewhat of a local hero. 

'I sincerely apologize to the organizers and the fans,' Bardet said in conclusion. 'I came to Paris-Nice with a great desire and conviction to be an important actor in the proceedings. Now I must concentrate on preparing myself for the races that I will face in the next few weeks when I will be dedicated to taking part in my sport in the way that I love it.'

Paris-Nice continues today with another wet, windy and testing 195km stage from Rochefort-en-Yvelines to Amilly. 

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