Vuelta a San Juan organisers expel Keisse after woman files police complaint

Belgian said to have 'damaged the reputation and honour' of Argentinean race

The organisers of the Vuelta a San Juan have decided to expel Iljo Keisse from the Argentinean race for "behaviour that damaged the reputation and honour of the Vuelta a San Juan, the UCI and cycling in general".

On Tuesday, the Deceuninck-QuickStep rider had apologised for feigning a sexual act behind a waitress from a local bar as she posed for a photograph with the team. She went on to make an official police complaint and spoke to local media. Keisse was interviewed by police and reportedly given a 3000 pesos (US$80) fine.

Keisse and Deceuninck-QuickStep said he would continue in the Vuelta a San Juan and he finished 29th in Tuesday's 12km individual time trial stage, which was won by teammate Julian Alaphilippe.

Keisse returned to the team hotel after the stage, and was ready to help Alaphilippe defend his race lead. However, the race organisers put out a press release confirming his expulsion from the race just before midnight.

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The Belgian apologised for his actions before Tuesday's stage. He admitted making the lewd pose, but denied making any kind of contact with the waitress.

"I made a mistake – I realise that. It will not happen again. I also want to apologise to everybody – to the Argentinian people, but not only them: to everybody who feels offended by what I did. To the race organisation, which has been in difficulty because of this, to my team, actually... I want to apologise to everybody. It was a really stupid thing to do. I wish I could turn back time. but I can't. I cannot do more in this moment than say I'm sorry and promise that things like this will never happen again."

Earlier in the day, the race organisers had called on the Deceuninck-QuickStep team to act and discipline Keisse. When Keisse stayed in the race, the organiser decided to act.

Their decision came after a local judge had found Keisse guilty and fined him 3000 pesos.

"Things have to change, be it a French tourist, an Italian or someone from San Juan. Be it a construction worker, engineer or lawyer, things must change," local judge Enrique Mattar was reported as saying by the Telesoldiario website.

"Woman have to be able to walk quietly down the street, be happy at work and at home. Things have changed socially. That's enough of sexist jokes and macho attitudes that are no longer socially tolerable," said Mattar.

There was no initial reaction from Keisse or the Deceuninck-QuickStep team during the night in San Juan, and Julian Alaphilippe plans to defend his race lead at the Vuelta a San Juan during Wednesday's 185km rolling stage to Valle Fertil/Villa San Aguastin.

 

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