Cycling fans around the world can finally breathe easy, after Tour de France organisers ASO – in consultation with the UCI – activate executive powers to force Russian rider Ilnur Zakarin (CCC) to take the chairlift down from any future climbs.
By FORGE HINCAPIE
The gangly Russian – perhaps best-known for launching himself head-long off the Coll dell’Agnello in the 2016 Giro d’Italia – was part of a leading duo with eventual stage winner Nans Peters on Stage 8 of the Tour de France.
The pair then commenced the descent of the Port de Balès.
Within just 25 metres of the road turning downhill, Zakarin almost crashed four times, with witnesses reporting hearing the Benny Hill Show theme tune playing in the sky.
In scenes so distressing that host broadcasters were forced to cut the live feed, Zakarin proceeded to descend sitting bolt-upright on his hoods, missing every apex on his way down to the valley floor.
TdF Chief Commissaire Piere le Qui was flabbergasted.
“While he did (God knows how) manage to keep the bike rubber-side down, we cannot stand idly by and allow him to continue to endanger himself and others by ever riding downhill again.
“Zakarin’s racing licence has been downgraded to Class 1.B with immediate effect.
“He now has two options after cresting any climb, categorised or not: he can take a chairlift, cablecar, or funicular railway if one is available; otherwise he must walk all the way down.
“In six months time he can apply for dispensation to ride negative gradient false flats of -0.5% or less, but if I were him, I wouldn’t bother.”
This marks the first time the obscure protocol, known as the “Wiggo Rule,” has been activated since it was created seven years ago.
It was drafted in the wake of the 2013 Giro d’Italia, which saw defending TdF champion Bradley Wiggins bring the entire sport of cycling into disrepute by consistently descending like a badly-wounded seagull in a gale.