Filip Maciejuk was already kicked out of the race as well as fined and penalized by the race jury Sunday, but the cycling governing body is mulling a possible racing ban for the Polish rider.
“We want to set an example,” UCI coordinator Peter Van Den Abeele told Sporza. “His maneuver was absolutely [wrong]. You may never jeopardize the safety of your fellow riders.”
Maciejuk tried to pass on a sidewalk on the left side of the peloton ahead of the first passage of the Oude Kwaremont. The pavement ended, and he bounced into a ditch before bunny-hopping back into the peloton.
The promising young Polish rider lost control, and dozens of riders crashed in his wake.
Several riders crashed out and were seriously injured, including Peter Sagan, who abandoned his final Flanders, and Tim Wellens, who suffered a broken collarbone, and Ben Turner, out with a broken arm.
After being disqualified, Maciejuk later took to social media to apologize for his errors. Many riders and teams have reacted in anger and called for a stronger penalty.
So far, there’s been no public comment or reaction from the Bahrain Victorious team.
UCI: ‘We want to set an example’
Van Den Abeele said Maciejuk will be called before the UCI’s disciplinary committee.
“Further measures can definitely follow,” Van Den Abeele told the Belgian broadcaster. “He will appear before the disciplinary committee. A possible suspension and/or additional fine is then not excluded. This will not just pass.”
Riding on sidewalks and footpaths is not allowed by the UCI, and riders have been disqualified in other races. Van Den Abeele said the incident Sunday revealed why riders need to stay on the designated road way.
“We were looked at a bit skewed when we introduced the rule that it was not allowed to ride on a footpath, but look now, the consequences were significant for riders like Tim Wellens,” he said.
“It is a negative trend and we need to get rid of it. We want to set an example and send a signal to the riders that we are jointly responsible for safety.”
Tim Wellens reacts: ‘Social media has punished Maciejuk enough’
Tim Wellens, who broke his collarbone in Sunday’s crash, underwent surgery Sunday evening and was released from the hospital Monday, UAE Team Emirates officials confirmed.
As one of the major victims from Sunday’s crash, Wellens said he does not believe Maciejuk needs extra punishment. Social media’s already done that, he told Het Nieuwsblad.
“That was not a smart move on his part, of course, but I think Maciejuk has already been punished enough on social media,” Wellens told the Belgian daily. “I don’t know the Pole from Bahrain Victorious personally, but I suppose he would have given his collarbone not to be the cause of this massive crash.”
Wellens said he’ll likely be out for several weeks, and hopes to return to racing in time for the Tour de Suisse.
“Today I had a teammate on the phone and he had a different opinion. He felt that Maciejuk cannot be punished hard enough,” Wellens said. “It makes little difference to me. My collarbone remains broken.”
1.Congrats @TamauPogi & everyone from the team!! 😍
2.Thanks everyone for the many messages ❤️
3.Thank you to the people working in the hospitals in Oudenaarde & Herentals
4.Collarbone in 4 pieces. A lot of pain, but should already be much better in a few days. https://t.co/Xq5pxNLXK1
— Tim Wellens (@Tim_Wellens) April 3, 2023