BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) – The way this race was going it’s a wonder the cyclists didn’t stop at a gas station to ask for directions.

The main pack of the Eneco Tour was led the wrong way 31 miles from the finish during a chaotic fourth stage Sunday. The pack eventually stopped on a narrow country road while a cyclist on the correct route staged a protest when told he had to wait for the others to catch up.

“This is totally ridiculous,” Bart Dockx, in the lead group and riding for the Davitamon team, told VRT television. “We have been risking our lives for three days on treacherous roads. This Eneco Tour is a joke.”

A motorcycle responsible for guiding the riders sped ahead too quickly and lost contact with the pack during a steep decline, said director Rob Discart of the Pro Tour race. That resulted in the group taking a wrong turn off the course.

Meanwhile, three riders gained a lead of 15 minutes by going the right way. They were told to stop by police after organizers found out they were gaining an unfair distance on the field.

Dockx got off his bike and sat on the road in protest after being forced to wait. The race resumed with the three leaders given a four-minute head start, but they were eventually caught.

Italy’s Alessandro Ballan of the Lampre Caffita team won the 144-mile stage between Landgraaf in the Netherlands and Verviers in Belgium.

There were no mix-ups Monday. Dutch rider Max Van Heeswijk of the Discovery Channel team won the 120-mile fifth stage from Verviers to Hasselt in 4 hours, 41 minutes, 6 seconds.

The race ends Wednesday.


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