Gianni Moscon has been banned from racing for five weeks by the UCI for hitting Fortuneo-Samsic rider Elie Gesbert during stage 15 of the Tour de France, allowing him to return in time to be selected for the Italian team for the World Road Race Championships in Innsbruck, Austria at the end of September.
The UCI confirmed that Moscon was disqualified from the Tour de France and was banned from competition between August 8 and September 12. In a statement from Team Sky, Moscon said he accepted the suspension.
“I reacted in the heat of the moment and it was never my intention to hit the rider. As the footage shows I didn’t make contact, but I regret my actions and I have already apologised to both Elie Gesbert and Team Fortuneo Samsic for the incident," Moscon said.
Cyclingnews understands that Team Sky do not intend to terminate the Italian’s contract despite this latest incident, preferring to help and support the 24 year-old Italian. He has undergone diversity training and received other professional help.
Following Moscon’s racial abuse of Kevin Reza at the 2017 Tour de Romandie, Team Sky said any repeat of his behaviour would result in termination of his contract. Cyclingnews understands that this warning referred specifically to racial incidents and so Moscon is set to stay with Team Sky despite a growing rap sheet of bad behaviour.
Last year, he was accused of deliberately causing Sebastien Reichenbach to crash during the Tre Valli Varesine race in Italy apparently after the Swiss rider reproached him for his racist attack on Reza. The UCI disciplinary committee eventually closed the case in June, citing a lack of evidence due to the absence of video footage.
Moscon was disqualified from last year’s World Championships road race in Bergen when video evidence emerged of him taking a tow from the Italian team car after a crash on the penultimate lap.
Despite these incidents, Moscon also has the support of the Italian Cycling Federation, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport, and has been assured of a place in he elite men’s Italian squad for the World Championships. Moscon apparently travelled from his home in the northern Trentino region to study the time trial course in Innsbruck on Tuesday. He is the current Italian national time trial champion and possible medal contender on the hilly 52.5 km course in Austria.
According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, the UCI have already held a disciplinary hearing and are set to confirm a five or six week ban from racing. That would allow Moscon to return to racing in mid-September, in time to ride the time trial at the World Championships on Wednesday September 26. Moscon has not raced since leaving the Tour de France but could ride some of the one-day Italian races in mid-September before heading to Innsbruck.
Following the introduction of a video assist referee (VAR) system, the UCI has intensified its scrutiny of race incidents. In July the UCI gave Lars Boom (LottoNL-Jumbo) a one-month ban after he hit Preben Van Hecke in the Tour of Norway. Last year Andrey Grivko was banned for 45 days after punching Marcel Kittel during the Dubai Tour.
Brailsford shows his support for Moscon
Team Sky manager, Dave Brailsford suggested that Moscon’s action should be seen in the context of a very tense race for Team Sky. Chris Froome's drawn out salbutamol case was closed just four days before the start of the Tour de France. Froome was frequently booed during the race and Brailsford did little to calm the negative sentiment against his squad by suggesting that the hostile roadside reaction was a “French cultural thing.” He later apologised for his comments.
“This incident obviously happened during one of the most challenging races the team has ever faced. We are confident that Gianni truly regrets his actions and has learnt from this episode,” Brailsford said in a statement about Moscon’s suspension.
“We have a duty of care to all our riders which we take extremely seriously. Gianni is still a relatively young rider at the start of his career and we will continue to give him the help and support he needs to learn, develop and move forward from this.”
Moscon was criticised by both Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome during the Tour de France for his behaviour and expulsion from the race. Team Sky was left with just seven riders for the final week in the Pyrenees but Thomas went on to win the Tour de France, with Froome finishing third behind Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb).
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