LONDON (AFP) — China’s women were disqualified from the team sprint final on the opening night of the UCI Track World Championships on Wednesday, a decision that so incensed their French coach Benoit Vetu that he suffered a suspected broken hand after he hit a table in anger.
The team of Gong Jinjie and Zhong Tianshi had appeared to have successfully defended their world title in emphatic fashion against Russia only to be relegated for an illegal change.
“It is the rules, but the rules are bad,” said Vetu, his right hand in a cast, before leaving London’s Lee Valley VeloPark for x-rays. “It was a millimeter too early, that is all. One millimeter.”
After their relegation, the Russian duo of Daria Shmeleva and Anastasiia Voinova were declared world champions.
Earlier in the day, during qualifying, hosts Great Britain, needing to place two nations between them and France to earn the last remaining spot in the Olympics team sprint, could only come fifth meaning the seventh-placed French team claimed the spot for Rio.
Home rider Katy Marchant launched a blistering tirade against British Cycling coaching staff for experimenting with different teams in qualification events.
“There is a lot of frustration, disappointment, disappointed in the organization,” she said. “We’re in this position through decisions of other people, not through any fault of our own.”