Andriy Grivko and his Astana team have accepted his disqualification from the Dubai Tour for striking Marcel Kittel during stage 3. However, the experienced Ukraine rider claimed the Quick-Step Floors sprinter was trying to push his way into the echelon.
Kittel was left with blood running down his cheek after the altercation and went to speak to the race judge after getting treatment from the race doctor. He claimed Grivko elbowed him in the face and called for him to be banned for six months. Kittel refused to accept any kind of apology.
Grivko did not stop to speak to the media at the stage finish, riding on to a nearby hotel for a shower. On returning to the race hotel in downtown Dubai, he gave his version of what happened in the heat of the echelon. He claimed Kittel was overly aggressive.
"He wanted to take my place, he pushed me again and again. With my hand I tried to push him back, because it’s not possible. Maybe he didn’t understand me, I don’t know. Then after he broke his glasses, he was really angry," Grivko told journalists.
"You must win with the legs, not with the shoulders. In the sprint, I understand it’s a battle for position. But in the middle of the race, it’s not normal."
Grivko accepted the jury’s decision to expel him from the race.
"I agree with this decision. For me, it’s no problem, but everybody must respect each other. OK, he’s a leader, but he can’t push riders off the road. It’s dangerous for everybody," Grivko concluded.
The Astana team quickly issued a formal apology via social media for Grivko’s ‘improper behaviour’, with sports director Alexander Shefer revealing that the team management will consider additional punishment for the rider.