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Tour de France

Tour de France: Stefan Küng says he ‘made a mistake’ after grabbing Ruben Guerreiro helmet

Groupama-FDJ rider says that he acted in the 'heat of the moment' but asserts that his action was not 'violent.'

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SØNDERBORG, Denmark (VN) — Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) has said that he “made a mistake” when he grabbed the helmet of Ruben Guerreiro (EF Education-EasyPost) during stage 2 of the Tour de France.

Küng was fined 500 Swiss Francs after he was seen grabbing Guerreiro’s helmet while the pair was riding in the peloton with around 36 kilometers to go.

Speaking to the media at the stage of stage 3 in Vejle, Küng explained that the incident occurred after he had slotted in front of Guerreiro in the peloton. He admitted that he was wrong to react in the way that he did and accepted the financial punishment from the UCI.

Also read: Tour de France: Stefan Küng fined for shoving EF Education-EasyPost rider

“I moved up on the right-hand side of the road. I moved in front of him and because he was in the wheel of a teammate he was not so happy about it,” Küng explained. “He said some nice things words to me and he was constantly looking back and I was scared with all of the public on the side of the road. I was like ‘man, keep the eyes on the front.’ I touched his helmet to say look in front.

“I know I shouldn’t have done this because it’s one of the sacred rules in cycling that you should not touch anyone or take your hands off the handlebars. I excused myself afterward to him and we made our peace and it was fine, but I understand that the UCI has to give a fine for that but I want to insist that my gesture was not at all violent. It wasn’t a punch or anything. I know I made a mistake but we’re all fine.”

Küng was perhaps fortunate that he didn’t get thrown out of the Tour de France as riders have been expelled from events for raising their hand to another.

Last month, Juan Sebastián Molano was disqualified from the Critérium du Dauphiné for punching Hugo Page (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert).

Meanwhile, Gianni Moscon was thrown out of the 2018 Tour de France for hitting Fortuneo-Samsic rider Elie Gesbert during stage 15. Küng was keen to express that there was no violence intended in his gesture and that it was different to the incidents involving Molano and Moscon.

“I think if you punch someone then you have to be thrown out, but I was not punching him or doing any harm. I think that there’s a difference between that and punching someone,” he said. “There’s also a difference between being thrown out and having a fine that says ‘hey, watch out’ we’re looking at you. This is what I had today, and I’m glad I can continue. There was no violence in my gesture.”

Küng said that he and Guerreiro were quite quick to make amends with each other out on the road.

Both accepted, according to the Swiss racer, that they had both reacted in the heat of the moment and needed to clear the air.

“There’s always both sides. For sure, you see me grabbing my helmet but all the nice words that he said to me and the splash of bidon in the face, these things you don’t see,” Küng explained. “There are things happening constantly and we can deal with it ourselves. We excused each other, we both said we were in the heat of the moment, it’s all fine and let’s move on.

“It’s important that we can calm down our differences because it’s about mutual respect and this we have for each other. We know we’re going to be racing with each other for 19 more days. It’s all fine between us, no hard feelings, it’s all good.”