Lefevere suggests UCI is 'short on cash' as Alaphilippe fined for removing helmet

 Julian Alaphilippe at Tirreno-Adriatico
Julian Alaphilippe at Tirreno-Adriatico

Soudal-QuickStep boss Patrick Lefevere has complained that it's 'raining fines' and joked that the UCI is 'short of cash' after Julian Alaphilippe was sanctioned for removing his helmet at Tirreno-Adriatico.

The two-time world champion broke the rules when he changed clothing on stage 4 of the Italian stage race, removing his helmet briefly so that he could remove a base layer on the fly with 80km to go.

Alaphilippe was slapped with a fine of 500 Swiss Francs, which led to his QuickStep boss to lash out in his weekend column for Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad.

“Wind in Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico, but I notice that it is also raining. The fines from the UCI are falling out of the blue this year," Lefevere wrote.

"How long would it have taken [for Alaphilippe to change clothing]? Maximum five minutes. That is a rate of 100 Swiss Francs per minute."

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The UCI's regulations state that a rider taking off their helmet during a race should be punished with a "CHF 200 fine and elimination or disqualification", which would suggest Alaphilippe paid over the odds but was arguably lucky to remain in the race. Instead, he appears to have been punished under the section of the regulations that covers 'damage to the image of cycling'.

In any case, Lefevere wasn't happy, in turn criticising the UCI over safety conditions at Paris-Nice on Thursday.

"I'm not going to say that the UCI should applaud when a rider takes off his helmet - we shouldn't minimize safety - but does the federation also impose a fine on itself if a bollard suddenly stands along the road in the last kilometre of Paris-Nice? I did not see that on the official communiqué."

Lefevere suggested the governing body is "short of cash" as he noted an increase in fines for infractions that may have been met with a blind eye in the past.

He referred to James Knox's disqualification from the recent Tour Down Under for drafting a car, despite having crashed and needing to undergo a concussion test, while he brought up another Alaphilippe example from when the Frenchman lost the yellow jersey at the 2020 Tour de France after taking a bottle just beyond the designated feed zone.

“The problem of VAR in football also exists in the jury car for me. There are too few people with practical experience who can correctly assess race situations," Lefevere wrote.

"What is breakdown recovery and what is forgery? A former rider has a better feel for that than someone who has never raced. In all modesty, if I see someone hanging from the back of a car with a sticking brake – the oldest trick in the book – I know fairly quickly whether there is a real problem or whether someone wants to ride 60km/h instead of 40.

"My advice to retired riders who want to 'keep doing something in the race': follow a UCI commissaire course."