Gavazzi Wins Stage 5 of Tour of the Basque Country after Oscar Freire is Relegated

News & Results

04/8/2011| 0 comments
by Reuters and Roadcycling.com

Gavazzi Wins Stage 5 of Tour of the Basque Country after Oscar Freire is Relegated

Team Lampre's Italian Francesco Gavazzi was declared the winner of the fifth stage of the Tour of the Basque Country 2011 earlier today after Spanish sprinter Oscar Freire of Team Rabobank again suffered the anguish of being relegated from first place.

Team Lampre's Italian Francesco Gavazzi was declared the winner of the fifth stage of the Tour of the Basque Country 2011 earlier today after Spanish sprinter Oscar Freire of Team Rabobank again suffered the anguish of being relegated from first place.

Triple world champion Freire won a bunch sprint at Zalla, but race judges relegated him and his team mate Luis Leon Sanchez who was judged to have given Freire a helpful push in the final 200 metres of the stage.

Both were demoted to the last positions of the first peloton of riders and handed fines of wee 200 Swiss francs.

Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez (Team Katusha) remained the overall leader with one day to go but that was completely overshadowed by the controversial end to the fifth stage.

Freire, who was also relegated from first place in the opening stage of the 2010 edition of the Tour of the Basque Country for blocking another rider, vented his anger while speaking to journalists as Gavazzi sprayed champagne at the fans just a few yards away.

"I asked him (Gavazzi) if he didn't feel ashamed to go up there on the podium," a grim-faced Freire said.

"Nobody expected this, not me, not him, nobody. I was the strongest, and there was no doubt about that.

"I'm amazed by what has happened, taking away a victory like this just isn't fair."

Rabobank sports director Adri Van Houwelingen also hit out at the ruling.

"In the past several riders on my team have been disqualified, and I agreed with the jury, but not today," he commented.

"The UCI (cycling's governing body) are always talking about true sport, how the strongest rider should win and today Oscar was clearly the strongest."

"He didn't win by five centimeters, he won by two meters. One day the UCI goes left, the next day they go right," Van Houwelingen concluded.

Gavazzi claimed he was unsure of what had happened, saying he had not seen Freire's sprint.

"I have no idea what happened," the Lampre-ISD rider told reporters after being celebrated on the podium and added "I was sprinting on one side of the road and Oscar was on the other.

"I was on my way to the hotel when they told me to come back because I had won. Nobody likes winning like this."

The Tour of the Basque Country / Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco 2011 finishes tomorrow with a decisive individual time trial in Zalla. Riders like Team RadioShack's Andreas Klöden and Christopher Horner are favorites for the overall race victory.

Watch Tour of the Basque Country 2011 video highlights in our Roadcycling.com videos section .

Click here for complete stage 5 results.

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