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BAGNÈRES-DE-LUCHON, France (VN) — Team Fortuneo-Samsic’s attention turns back to the Tour de France after a negative publicity storm that centered around Team Sky’s Gianni Moscon punch its cyclist Elie Gesbert Sunday.
The storm brewed for the last 48 hours, since the Carcassonne when the jury booted Italian Moscon out of the Tour after stage 15. Early in the same stage, Moscon snapped at his French rival Gesbert for cutting him off as the breakaway was trying to form.
Moscon went back to Trento, Italy, on the rest day Monday, Sky said it was disappointed with Moscon and would evaluate his future in the team, and Gesbert gathered himself.
“I don’t understand what happened,” Gesbert said. “The pictures speak for themselves, I received a blow and the commissioners made the decision to throw Moscon out of the race.
“I was surprised at his behavior. Nothing happened on my side, I stayed in my place and I did not do anything wrong. I have nothing to feel sorry for.”
Before stage 16 rolled away from Carcassonne Tuesday, Gesbert kept mostly quiet. The team too.
“For cycling, for the Tour, it’s not a good gesture to see,” said general manager Emmanuel Hubert.
“It hasn’t happened often, but we don’t know to say. We are not here to speak about the history of cycling. It’s happened, the jury made their call.
“It’s over for Moscon. C’est fini. Terminé. But the Tour continues.”
Fortuneo continues with a full eight-man roster. Sky continues its push to win the Tour with seven men.
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“We didn’t really talk about it over the rest day,” team Fortuneo’s cyclist Amaël Moinard said. “It happened early in the race, it was over quickly. Elie didn’t speak much about it, he was surprised, and that’s it.
“Usually it’s just that riders are yelling at each other. I’m not trying to make an excuse for Moscon, but you never know how you’re going to react in a stressful situation. Everyone acts differently and we are in the middle of these pressure situations.”
Moscon’s name is known in cycling already. He raced to fifth in 2017 Paris-Roubaix as a 22-year-old. Later in the season, he helped Froome win the Vuelta a España with a strong ride.
It was also an année noire for Moscon. Sky suspended him after he used racial slurs in the 2017 Tour de Romandie towards the Frenchman Kévin Reza. Later in the year, he allegedly pushed a rider off his bike in the Tre Valli Varesine. The UCI disciplinary committee cleared him just last month without enough evidence to rule.
“I haven’t had any problems with him, I don’t know him personally,” said Moinard. “Small things can sometimes turn into big problems. I don’t know if it was the right move or not to kick him out. I’m not a judge.”
At buses parked near Fortuneo’s, other sports directors questioned the incident.
“It’s bad, but you need to see it from both sides,” Dimitri Konyshev of team Katusha said. “We don’t want to see this in cycling.”
“We know that we are under the lights of the camera all the time,” Bora-Hansgroghe director Patxi Vila said. “Before we were careful, now we tell our riders to be 100 percent careful with their actions.
“We should not see this in sport, where one of the main principles is fairness. Violence should be the last thing we want in life. For cycling for sure, that image is not good to see.”