Anthony Roux (FDJ) got the stage win he’d been chasing all week, but only after judges reviewed the finale of Saturday’s fourth stage at the Vuelta a Burgos.
Roux, who defended the lead he’s held since stage 2, finished second to Daniele Ratto (Cannondale), but judges later disqualified him, passing the stage to Roux.
Judges took more than 45 minutes to make the call that Ratto closed down Roux at the finish line, allegedly barging him into the right-hand barriers.
FDJ challenged the win, and the jury tipped it in their favor.
But the decision was controversial, because the final 200 meters of the course were over narrow roads and actually ended with a slight right-hand sweeper. Ratto claims he unclipped from a pedal, but denied intentionally trying to close down Roux.
How it unfolded
An early four-rider break pulled clear, but with a rolling course and Sunday’s big mountain stage, this one was for the sprinters.
Orica-GreenEdge, winner of the past two stages, worked to set up the sprint for Leigh Howard, but he could only muster seventh.
The 35th Burgos tour concludes Sunday with two climbs up the Lagunas de Neila finale, ideal for Nairo Quintana (Movistar).
The six-climb final stage features two passages up the Neila climb, which features ramps as steep as 12 percent in the final kilometers.
The GC battle should come down to final climb up Neila. Quintana, competing in his last race before returning next week to Colombia for the first time since riding to second at the Tour de France, is the favorite at 14th at 17 seconds adrift.
Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) is best positioned of the favorites, fifth at 10 seconds back, while Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), 18th at 24 seconds back, will be making an important litmus test before heading to the Vuelta a España later this month.