Team Sky suspend Moscon over racist insults

Italian out for six weeks and will get diversity training after incident with Reza

Team Sky announced today that it has suspended Italian Gianni Moscon as the result of an incident at the Tour de Romandie during which the 23-year-old hurled racist insults at FDJ's Kévin Reza.

Moscon was given a "formal written warning" and suspended from racing for six weeks, and will be sent to a "diversity awareness course", according to a statement on TeamSky.com.

"Gianni recognises that his behaviour was wrong and how seriously Team Sky take this kind of incident," Team Sky said. "He apologised to Kevin Reza after the stage and again to him and his team the following morning, and this apology was accepted. Gianni knows that there is no excuse for his behaviour and that any repeat will result in termination of his contract."

It is not the first time a rider has been punished for racist insults, nor is it the first time Reza has been the target: at the 2014 Tour de France, Reza accused Michael Albasini (Orica) of using racist language while the two were part of the day's breakaway on the stage to Luchon. The Orica team did not take action, tweeting, "Misunderstandings cleared up, shook hands. No dramas."

In 2015 Branislau Samoilau was accused of being abusive toward MTN-Qhubeka's Natnael Berhane, and fined one month's wages by the CCC Polsat team, which donated the funds to the Qhubeka charity.

Cyclingnews spoke to Team Sky's directeur sportif Nicolas Portal in Romandie after the incident, and he confirmed that Moscon apologised for his comments to Reza, but the team did not pull the Italian out of the race.

"There was a big fight at the finish and, yes, it hurt Kevin. After the stage Gianni apologised and we went to see FDJ this morning to make the effort so they know we take it seriously. Kevin accepted and that was nice that the two guys could shake hands and that there was an apology. There's no excuse for that but we moved on," Portal said.

"This is something we're going to take seriously after the race. In this sport we have all generations of bike riders and some really young bike riders. It's our job to teach them the right way, we've seen really bad behaviour in other sports, and this is really bad. We explained this to Gianni and he understood."

The UCI has also launched an investigation into the incident.

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