So what is the problem surrounding George Bennett’s 20 second time penalty? After finishing 8th behind Romain Bardet in stage 12 of the Tour de France, the LottoNL-Jumbo climber would have been just 3 seconds behind Nairo Quintana in the general classification. But that gap is now 23 seconds after the UCI punished Bennett for taking a drink inside the final 20km of the stage.
What was a fantastic performance from George Bennett in stage 12 seems to have had the shine taken off of it just a bit with this particular revelation regarding the water in the final 20km. So what is the issue? Well it stems from the rule surrounding sanctioned actions found in UCI rule 12.1.040 section 23.2 which specifies the sanctions for unauthorised refreshments.
In a stage race taking refreshments in the first 50km or final 20km of a stage a rider may be sanctioned with a 200 Swiss Franc fine. If the incident occurs in the last 20km – as happened in the case of George Bennett and Rigoberto Uran – the rider will also suffer a 20 second time penalty. Three offences will result in a 1,000 Swiss Franc fine.
Our preview of stage 13 was recorded before we heard of Bennett’s time penalty
Around the same section of rules is also the penalty around pushing a member of another team; something which Nacer Bouhanni of Cofidis did to Jack Bauer of Quick-Step Floors in stage 10 of the Tour. In a one-day race the rider will be fined 200 Swiss Francs and eliminated from the race. In a stage race, however, the result is a 200 Swiss Franc fine and a 10 second time penalty; unlike Bouhanni’s 200 Swiss Franc fine and 1 minute penalty.
After the stage Bennett spoke to RadioSport about the incident, saying, “I’d run out of water and took a bottle of water from a fan on the side of the road. I took one and [Rigoberto] Uran took one and so did a couple of other guys but they were French but they didn’t even get penalties.”
“That really winds me up actually. We protested and they said that’s the rule. I didn’t even know that was a rule to be honest. I’ve never heard of it and I’ve been a professional for seven years and never seen it.”
Tonight sees the Tour de France continue with stage 13 of the race from Saint-Girons to Foix, another crucial day in the mountains and a major test for George Bennett as he looks to continue his hold on a top ten finish overall.