Tour de France: RadioShack's Johan Bruyneel apologizes for insulting comments made following "Jerseygate"
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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tour de France: RadioShack's Johan Bruyneel apologizes for insulting comments made following "Jerseygate"

by VeloNation Press at 9:53 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Says he understands the decision made by race officials

Johan BruyneelRadioShack manager Johan Bruyneel has issued a public apology for the way he handled the "Jerseygate" incident that occurred on the final day of the Tour de France.  The team had decided to stage a surprise public relations stunt that involved changing to black and yellow jerseys promoting seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong's cancer charity.

"Ok people! Now it's official! To be a race commisar, you don't need brains but only know the rules! Their motto: "c'est le reglement!," Bruyneel Tweeted in response to the Commissaires' decision not to allow the jerseys to be worn.

The incident caused the final stage of the Tour de France to be delayed for 20 minutes while Bruyneel and Armstrong attempted to convince race officials to allow them to wear the black tunics.  The International Cycling Union (UCI) issued a statement on Monday that expressed their concern that such a delay could interrupt television coverage of cycling's biggest event and cause harm to the sport.  Had the television coverage been cut prior to the end of the stage in some areas, it would have denied teams and sponsors the opportunity for publicity, which would undermine their decision to sponsor a cycling team.  It announced that both team management and the riders will be fined by the governing body.  The UCI also said that Bruyneel would have to answer to his "gravely offensive" comments before the UCI Disciplinary Commission.

"This was not the correct way to handle the situation, nor the example I want to set for my team, family and fans," Bruyneel said on his website.  "I understand the race officials' decision and publicly apologize for offending any official or representative of the UCI. It is also my intent to personally apologize to UCI President Pat McQuaid for my remarks."

RadioShack was explicitly asked not to wear the jerseys on the podium for the team classification, but ignored the request by race officials.

Armstrong’s team changing to special jerseys for the stage into Paris is not without precedent. In 2003 the US Postal Service team wore a special, retro “US Mail” jersey as a tribute to the race’s centenary; while in 2005, on the occasion of Armstrong’s seventh victory, the Discovery channel team wore a special version of its jersey featuring seven yellow stars.

The UCI said that it "regrets that an initiative for a cause as worthy as the fight against cancer was not coordinated beforehand with the Commissaires and organisers of the event".  The appropriate path would be to have been to clear the switch prior to the stage, which the UCI said can be done whilst remaining withing the rules.

The UCI has made the decision to donate any fines levied as a result of this matter to the ligue suisse contre le cancer.

RadioShack has already been overlooked for selection by the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España this season, and the incident could affect their relationship with Tour de France organizers, the Amaury Sports Organization.

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