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Flat tires are an all-too-common reality on the cobbles of Roubaix, but when world champion Elisa Balsamo used her Trek-Segafredo team car to get back up to the main group after flatting, the race jury disqualified her.
Balsamo flatted just a bit before Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) attacked on sector 12, establishing what was for a time the lead trio on the road.
At 50km to go, on the pavement, the Trek-Segafredo car pulled alongside Balsamo and the driver handed her a bottle — standard practice in pro racing. Further, Balsamo held onto the front of the bottle while the driver held on the back, transferring the car’s momentum to the rider. Again, this is standard practice in WorldTour racing.
What the race organizers decided was a violation, however, was the duration for which Balsamo held onto the bottle — and effectively the car — to gain undue advantage.
Chasing back through Mons en Pévèle, the monster five-star sector that came at 48km to go, Balsamo nearly crashed after a particularly harsh bump sent her bike sideways.
At about 40km to go, once Balsamo was riding in the second chase group, the commissaires announced that Balsamo had been disqualified.
The Trek-Segafredo car was called forward by the race, and again drew alongside Balsamo — this time, to give her the bad news: she was out of the Paris-Roubaix Femmes.