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Farrar borrows fan’s bike at Tour Down Under

ADELAIDE, Australia (VN) — A fan saved the day for Dimension Data’s Tyler Farrar after the American sprinter rode a borrowed bike to the finish line in Thursday’s stage 3. The day’s feel good story? Yes. The only problem is, that’s against UCI rules.

The UCI race jury made an exception, however, and Farrar will start Friday’s fourth stage. Why? It appears Farrar was riding at the back of the bunch following his crash, and team vehicles and neutral support cars had already sped down the road when he realized his bike was damaged. Without help available, Farrar found a helping hand from friendly Australian fans lining the course.

Here’s what happened: With speeds topping 70 kph, Farrar was caught up in a crash barreling down a narrow canyon leading near the base of the day’s main obstacle at the short but steep Corkscrew climb.

The American sprinter ended up in a ditch, and despite some nasty scrapes, he avoided serious injury. Team mechanics and staffers gave him a once over, and once it appeared he was OK, they swooshed back down the road to stay close to the nose of the action.

A few kilometers down the road, however, Farrar discovered that his derailleur was completely thrashed. With no neutral support in sight, he thought his race was done until a fan offered him to use his bike. Farrar also had to borrow his shoes because the cleats were different brands.

“We could see him on the side of the road and asked ‘do you need a wheel?’ and he said ‘na, a wheel is not going to cut it’,” the fan, 42-year-old Anthony Tooman, told The Advertiser.

“Then it went to ‘well, what pedals are you running?’ He was on Speedplay and I was on Shimano, and as soon as that was decided it was just, ‘well you might as well just take everything.’

“Then the next question was, ‘what size shoe are you?’ He was a size 43 and I’m a 44, so we swapped shoes, he jumped on my bike, we gave him some water and seeya later.”

Dimension Data had this to say about the incident on Twitter:

Just as Richie Porte discovered in last year’s Giro d’Italia, when he took a wheel from Orica – GreenEdge rider Simon Clarke, assistance from anyone but your teammates or neutral support is banned.

The UCI, citing the “sport of the sport” and the circumstances of the incident, made an exception for Farrar, who finished more than 13 minutes down on the stage and who presents no challenge to the GC favorites.

Here is an official race communiqué on the ruling:

Tyler Farrar of the Dimension Data team today accepted assistance from a spectator who loaned him his bicycle after the American cyclist was involved in a crash during the Thomas Foods Stage 3 of the Santos Tour Down Under.

Race officials have confirmed Farrar will be allowed to continue the race as an exception to the rule because a bad crash with several other riders involved created a hectic situation which meant neither his team car nor the event’s neutral service vehicle was in a position to provide assistance.

This ruling respects the spirit of the sport and considers the rather exceptional circumstances in which this occurred.

In normal circumstances accepting outside assistance such as Farrar did today would result in his disqualification from the race.