SHANGHAI (AFP) — A Chinese rider with the local Keyi Look team faces severe punishment after attacking members of the Swiss national team at the Tour of Hainan last week.
Race organizers on the southern Chinese island said Wang Xin and his team would never be allowed back following the violent incident that saw police step in and Keyi Look expelled from the event.
Video footage posted online showed a rider, purported to be Wang, beating one staff member of the Swiss team to the ground and kicking him in the head, before attacking a second one.
The rider then retrieved a tire pump from a support car, with the likely intent to use it as a weapon. Police and bystanders rushed in to intervene and took the pump from him as dozens of people looked on in shock.
The Chinese Cycling Association (CCA) is weighing further punishment following the incident at the end of Friday’s stage 7, a 166.5-kilometer ride between Sanya and Wuzhishan.
The incident was sparked when the Swiss team car “had physical contact” with Wang during the stage, causing him to crash, the CCA said.
The CCA said it had “a zero-tolerance attitude towards uncivilized behavior and violence” and alleged that in addition to Wang, Keyi Look team staff were also involved.
“CCA will make a further decision after more investigations on this incident,” it said in a statement.
Danilo Hondo, the Swiss team manager and allegedly one of Wang’s targets, denied the team’s car had struck the Chinese rider.
“We never bumped into him, you can see that from the race video,” he told Eurosport. “He simply hit the back wheel of another rider and went down. He was obviously embarrassed and took out his frustration on us.
“We tried to approach him after the race, in fact we waited 45 minutes after the finish for him to cross to apologize for any misunderstandings and to show him and his team that we respect them and meant no harm.
“But both he and his team approached us with anger and everything escalated from there.”
Keyi Look and Wang apologized in statements on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, but blamed the Swiss for knocking him over with their car.
The Tour of Hainan vowed never to allow them back.
“Wang’s behavior is not acceptable and doesn’t reflect Chinese cycling. Hainan people are known for being very friendly,” race organizers said in a statement.
“The image and the reputation of the Tour of Hainan cannot be tarnished by such improper behavior. Fighting will never be permitted in this event.”