Six decades after one of the greatest moments in Australian sporting history, the bureaucracy of international cycling has intervened to smash one of the loveliest gestures seen in decades in an sport notorious for drug cheats.
And just like when runner John Landy stopped mid-race to help a fallen Ron Clarke in 1956, this incident also involved two Australians, with Orica-GreenEDGE Australian rider Simon Clarke stopping to help Team Sky’s Richie Porte after he suffered a flat just 7km from the finish line in the 10th stage of the Giro d’Italia.
Porte, who was chasing race leader, Alberto Contador, and was a favourite to win 3400km grand tour, has been left with little hope after he was heavily penalised by race officials for being helped by his rival and friend. Clarke gave the Tasmanian a spare wheel to finish the stage and along with fellow Australian rider Michael Matthews helped Porte race back into the peloton.
As Team Sky reports, unbeknownst to the riders, the gesture contravened the race rules of the governing body, the UCI.
Clarke and Porte both received a two-minute time penalty and 200 Swiss Francs fine for “non-regulation assistance to a rider of another team”.
The ruling drops Porte from 4th to 12th place in the general classification, now more than three minutes behind Contador, having started the day just 22 seconds behind.
Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford summed up the mood of sports fans everywhere, saying “It is obviously disappointing that a sporting gesture made in the heat of the moment has resulted in such a strong penalty. No one was trying to gain an unfair advantage. This has however just strengthened our resolve and determination to fight for this race.”
The cyclists themselves also made their views known.
Porte dealt with it in a perfectly Australian way, saying he owes Clarke a beer.
— Rui Costa (@RuiCostaCyclist) May 19, 2015
Feeling sad for @richie_porte. Tried to help a friend as most would. I'm sorry about the outcome of all this!
— Simon Clarke (@SimoClarke) May 19, 2015
If that's not Aussie mate ship them what is? Punctured and clarkey gave me his front wheel… https://t.co/bu9tf3AhX4
— Richie Porte (@richie_porte) May 19, 2015
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