Elissonde still to give evidence in Moscon-Reichenbach case

Frenchman on long list for Team Sky's Giro d'Italia squad

Kenny Elissonde has told Cyclingnews that he has not testified in the ongoing case involving Gianni Moscon and Sebastien Reichenbach but that he would give evidence if requested.

The French climber, who is currently racing at the Volta ao Algarve as part of a strong Team Sky line-up also said that he is settled at the British team and fully focused on developing as a key mountain domestique rider after re-signing with the team at the end of last year.

Elissonde was a surprise signing from FDJ in 2017 but only penned a one-year deal with the British team. There was an initial option of one-year extension but after talks with the team in the middle of last year, a new two-year deal was put on the table. The consensus among Team Sky riders has been that Elissonde has adapted well to his new environment and become a respected and well-liked figure within the squad.

"It was a one-year plus a possible one-year extension. During the year we agreed to keep going and we agreed that it was better to do a two-year deal rather than another one year contract," Elissonde told Cyclingnews at the Volta ao Algarve.

"They know that I like the added security [of a two-year deal – ed.] and they know that I'm not just going to sit up and do nothing if I have one-year contract. They know how I function and how I train.

"I just want to focus on what I'm doing on the climbs and helping the leaders. In a team like Sky you learn all the time, at every race, so being in that role helps you learn. I quite enjoy this and maybe I'll have some chances in some races, but I'm happy to help the big leaders win races, more than maybe finishing sixth or seventh myself."

Moscon and Reichenbach

While Elissonde has concentrated on racing and improving as a rider, the storm around Team Sky over the last twelve months has intensified. Chris Froome's controversial participation at the Ruta del Sol has drawn criticism from several quarters, including rival riders, while UCI president David Lappartient had called on him to recuse from racing.

The team are also dealing with allegations that Gianni Moscon deliberately caused Reichenbach to crash at the Tre Valle Varesine last autumn. The fall left the FDj rider with serious injuries, although Moscon has strongly denied the allegation. The UCI have heard evidence from Reichenbach and several other riders. The alleged incident and accusations stem from Moscon's racial abuse of the former FDJ rider Kevin Reza at last year's Tour de Romandie.

Elissonde admitted that people had assumed he had testified because he was at the race, and because he has ridden for both FDJ and Team Sky.

"I don't know what's going on. I know something is going on, but at the moment I'm not involved," Elissonde told Cyclingnews.

"The case is ongoing and I try to stay far from it. It's between Moscon and Reichenbach, I've tried to keep away from this because it's between a teammate and an former teammate. I'm just doing my thing, and so far I've not given evidence. If I have to, then I will. At the same time, people don't really realise that I have nothing to say. I was in the race and people make the connection between me, Gianni and everything, but I have nothing to bring to this. It's not an easy situation and I don't like it. People can see that I don't like it, so they think there's something there but there's not more I can add."

Giro d'Italia long list

Elissonde will head to the Volta a Catalunya and then the Tour of the Alps after the Volta ao Algarve, and is on the long-list for the Giro d'Italia. The team for the first Grand Tour of the season will depend on Chris Froome's eligibility to race, with his ongoing case still to be resolved by the anti-doping authorities.

For Elissonde and the rest of the Team Sky riders, it's a case of carrying on and, like everyone else involved, watching and waiting until a final verdict is reached. The mood in the camp, Elissonde says, is still upbeat.

"I think I'll do Catalunya and Trentino. That's what I know at the moment. Things can change. The Giro is still far away, and maybe there's a chance but we don't know," he said. "It will be decided in the next few months. Last year at the race, that wasn't what I wanted, and it could be nice to go back there. Obviously it's a race everyone is motivated to do.

"We have a nice little group in Nice and we all train together. We just focus and it's a solid training group. We have solidarity and it sounds really cliché but we work hard together. We train together almost every day and we can only focus on training and racing."

When asked if the Team Sky riders had put up a siege mentality in order to deal with recent criticism, Elissonde replied: "I don't feel it like that. I just try and help the team win the next race. We don't need any other motivation to try and win. That helps to create something quite strong. We don't need anything else."

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