British rider James Knox has criticised cycling’s concussion protocols, after being disqualified from the Tour Down Under in Australia.
Knox, 27, crashed 55km from the end of stage one, but was later disqualified on his way back to the peloton.
He believes there is a conflict between Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) rules and rider safety.
“Commissaires should not punish riders for staying behind after a crash to be properly evaluated,” said Knox.
The Soudal-QuickStep team member argues his disqualification could encourage riders to skip safety checks in the future, to avoid losing their place in the race.
“The actions they took in the aftermath of the crash clearly demonstrated to me I would have been better off immediately remounting without undergoing a proper examination,” he said.
“The rules for returning to the convoy are very tricky but I feel like this was a clear-cut example that I wasn’t trying to use the cars for an advantage, nor would I have been in that situation without crashing.”
Knox underwent a concussion check after hitting his head in the crash, a procedure that has been in place since the end of 2020, before stopping for a second time because of a broken handlebar.
It was at this point he says he was “refused” by the commissaire to stay behind the car – known as ‘drafting’ because it gives riders an aerodynamic advantage in racing – for longer than “a couple of kilometres”.
“The exact reasons for this I’m not entirely sure. I watched from behind, as other crashed riders were allowed to stay behind their cars to re-join the race as you would expect,” he said.
He was then disqualified for excessively drafting team cars on his way back to the peloton.
“I have to accept my own responsibility for the mistakes I made after this.”
Fellow British cyclist Luke Rowe, who races for Ineos Grenadiers and is regarded as one of the most respected road captains in the sport, has defended Knox, labelling the UCI’s actions as “very dangerous.”
“So what the UCI are saying here is very dangerous! If you crash get straight back on your bike without getting checked out, otherwise you’re potentially out the race,” he tweeted.
“Instead of ‘get checked out properly, do the protocols, then receive aid to get back to the peloton’.”
BBC Sport has contacted the UCI for comment.