VINCENZO Nibali, of the Astana team  has been disqualified from the Vuelta a España after television pictures showed him being towed by a team car for 100 metres following a crash on the Caminito del Rey stage yesterday.

The Italian cyclist was brought down  with 30 kilometres remaining but after a lengthy wait for a replacement bike he set off with more than a minute and a half to make up on the peloton.

Team director Alexandre Shefer, who was driving the car, has also been expelled from the Vuelta. Rider and driver have also been  fined 200 Swiss Francs each.

Stefano Zanini, the Astana team director, talked about the Nibali incident this morning on the start-line and said: “I wish to apologize to the Astana team and staff, to the organisers and the fans.”

“I’m really sorry about what happened.”

“Of course, Vincenzo Nibali and Alexandre Shefer join me in this apology.”

“All this happened after a crash provoked by a rider who is used to such behaviour. For Vincenzo, it was a bad day and bad year. He certainly did not expect to be back home so soon. The message I tried to pass over to the team was to remain focused, with Aru, Landa, Luis Leon-Sanchez as well as Vanotti or Cataldo to help them, we have a very strong team.”

Today’s stage 3 is a 158.4km route from Mijas to Malaga.

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