Nightingale promoted to podium as bike race ‘winner’ used a car

ANDREA NIGHTINGALE finished fourth at the Abu Dhabi Gran Fondo only to end up taking bronze and £1,150 worth of prize money – shockingly, the apparent winner had done most of the race in a car.

Andrea Nightingale, pictured in action locally, thought she had finished fourth in Abu Dhabi before being told her category ‘winner’ had been disqualified for jumping into a car. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 31494267)
Andrea Nightingale, pictured in action locally, thought she had finished fourth in Abu Dhabi before being told her category ‘winner’ had been disqualified for jumping into a car. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 31494267)

As the Arabic emirate promotes itself as a sporting destination, it hosted this first-of-its-kind cycling event that catered for elites, drawing in big guns like Mark Cavendish, but also included a potentially lucrative option for age-group competitors.

The 61-year-old Sarnian multi-sporter was competing over 150km and against cyclists aged 50 and above, battling temperatures exceeding 30C and a straight headwind on the point-to-point course.

The exertions caused her to cramp up after 100km, after which she received quick ambulance treatment only to need it again 20km later.

It appeared that she had done all that for fourth.

But, in the most bizarre twist, a fellow competitor rushed over to her after the podium presentations were already finished and told her first place had just been disqualified.

It transpired that the ‘victor’ had been seen at 20km getting into a car, in which she rode until the final 2km.

‘What people do for money,’ an aghast Nightingale said afterwards.

The Guernsey veteran ultimately took home a bronze medal and 5,000 Emirates Dirham – the prize for first was three times that – but she did lament missing out on her moment of podium glory.

‘It was so bizarre,’ she said.

‘I was disappointed, because there were no photos and I did not have my moment, which is what you do it for.

‘I had gone into the race hoping that I would get a podium ... but not to get the podium for that reason and suddenly be reinstated, it probably will never happen to me again.’

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