There was controversy during stage four of the Giro d'Italia after Bahrain Merida rider Javier Moreno was ejected from the Giro for being caught pushing Team Sky rider Diego Rosa, causing him to crash.
With Moreno gone, two-time Giro winner Vincenzo Nibali will be without an important helper going into the remaining three weeks of the race. Moreno sat in 83rd position before being told he was no longer welcome to take part in the race.
“It’s not good for any cycling team, no matter who the sponsors are,” Bahrain-Merida General Manager Brent Copeland told Cycling Weekly.
“The images on TV weren’t great and we don’t support any type of violence in cycling. We respect it, as long as the UCI spoke to both riders.
“From our side, we don’t have all the details. I know that Rosa was pushed and they had words between themselves, but until I see Moreno, I can’t give many details.”
Moreno was also fined 200 Swiss Francs by the UCI who branded the incident an 'act of violence'.
Rosa, who joined Team Sky this year to help Geraint Thomas through the Giro pulled no punches, speaking briefly at the end of the Mount Etna stage.
“You can all see what happened,” Rosa said. “It was a stressful moment of the race. If a guy pushes the other guy out of the road in the public. Dangerous? Yeah, if he drops and crashes and breaks it all.”
A video showed Moreno to be saying something to Rosa with his hand on his back, before pushing him towards the watching public.
“Did I fall? Yeah, I changed the bike,” Rosa added. “It was a moment of stress, we ran into each other, and he touched me, I touched him, and then he threw me off.”
Moreno did not stop to speak with anyone at the finish line, riding straight to his team bus where his sports director, Gorazd Stangelj, waited.
“Moreno was shaking because he said that Rosa gave him a hit,” Stangelj said.
“I only saw the back of Rosa on the TV, but nothing else, but Moreno didn’t have anything to with that… he crashed much later.”
It seems what actually happened may be unclear, although the pictures are somewhat damning. While there is controversy over the actual nature of the altercation, what is certain is that Moreno will be taking no further part in the race.
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