The Katusha team have pulled Alexey Tsatevich from the Giro d'Italia after the Russian rider was penalised for excessive drafting during the stage 9 time trial in Chianti. They described his "unacceptable" actions as having "a huge and negative impact on the image of cycling in general and Team Katusha in particular".
Tsatevich finished the time trial in 68th place, 4:22 on winner Primoz Roglic, but it is understood that he spent a good deal of time in the slipstream of Tobias Ludvigsson, his minute-man who had passed him early on.
UCI commissaires struck the 26-year-old with a 100 CHF fine and a time penalty of nearly seven minutes for 'failure to respect regulation distances and gaps between riders' but Katusha felt the punishment wasn't severe enough and took the unprecedented step of taking their own rider out of the race.
"First of all, on behalf of Team Katusha, I would like to apologize for Alexey Tsatevich's behavior during the time trial. The way Tsatevich rode yesterday's stage was absolutely unacceptable," said directeur sportif Dmitry Konyshev in a stern statement.
"First of all, he broke the clear rule, known by every professional rider. In addition, he also showed a great lack of respect for his rival, the rider who caught him on the course."
Konyshev also complained that Tsatevich ignored team orders during the time trial and said that he had no second thoughts about making the shock decision, despite the fact it weakens the team for the remainder of the race.
"He absolutely ignored the team plan for the day, provided and requested by the sports director. His behavior has a huge and negative impact on the image of cycling in general and Team Katusha in particular," continued Konyshev.
"Accepting the commissaires penalty was not enough for us; we had to take more severe measures. It is not easy to enter the second week of the race with just 8 riders, but I am convinced we've made the right decision."
The Giro was Tsatevich's debut Grand Tour.