April 13, 2006 – The controversial decision to disqualify three riders from the final standings at Paris-Roubaix continues to cause headaches. In the final stretch of last Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix, three riders were disqualified for having breached a barrier in front of train tracks before the train had passed. Race laws specify that riders must stop, let the train pass, and wait for the barrier to be elevated before continuing. Davitamon-Lotto has officially launched a complaint to the UCI in reference to their rider, Peter Van Petegem from Belgium.
Van Petegem unofficially finished third behind winner Fabien Cancellara (CSC) and Leif Hoste (Discovery Channel), but was disqualified along with Hoste and Discovery teammate Vladimir Gusev.
Davitamon-Lotto argues that the group following Van Petegem – which contained ProTour leader Tom Boonen (Quick Step) – also “jumped” the railway crossing before the barrier was raised, however after the train had passed. Team spokespeople assert that there is photographic and video evidence to support their claim. Fellow Belgian Tom Boonen was elevated from a fifth place finish to second place after the disqualifications.
In terms of ProTour points, Van Petegem’s disqualification cost him 40 points; while Boonen’s second place result gave him an extra 15. As a result, Boonen leads the ProTour standings with 129 points, 24 points ahead of Italy’s Alessandro Ballan, who also benefited from the disqualifications. Van Petegem is now in 22nd place with just 30 points after seven of 27 races. As of yet the UCI has made no official comment about the case.