Serbian Ivan Stevic (Partizan SRBIJAN) has been removed from the Tour of Qinghai Lake for his middle-finger salute at the finish of stage four at Qinghai Lake. An emotional Stevic raised his finger in a gesture directed at his team’s mechanic who had previously joked with him about his form.
He has also been hit in the pocket with a fine of 1,000 Swiss Francs as well as losing his prize money from the stage win. Runner-up on the stage, Ukraine rider Yuriy Metlushenko (Amore & Vita-Conad), was elevated to the win.
“I don’t know why he did this,” said Chief Commissaire Jean Francois Camoin. “Sometimes you don’t know what is going on in the mind of some people.”
“Everywhere in the world you have to show respect,” he added. “This finger was for whom, i don’t mind for whom, but you can’t do this”.
Partizan SRBIJAN team manager Dusan Banovic was disappointed with the outcome. ”We are not happy definitely, you know, but it happened,” he said. “We apologised to everyone here and we feel bad.”
“I think the most important thing is that he didn’t show that (finger) to anyone, it was just some anger that he let out because for three years he hasn’t won anything”, explained Banovic.
“We will pay everything but also contact the UCI,” added the despondent team manager.
Stevic was extremely apologetic for his actions. “I just really wanted to apologise not only to the Chinese people but to all of the riders,” he said. “Those are the emotions, those are the moments, and they come out.”
“It wasn’t because of the race or the people around me or the riders”, he explained. “The last thing i wanted to do was offend the organisation or the Chinese people, i didn’t think it like that way.”
“I am an emotional guy, that’s how I race. It was totally wrong, i am aware of that now,” he said.