With his 45-day racing ban on the horizon, Andriy Grivko had the perfect opportunity to head into his suspension for punching Marcel Kittel with a stage win at the Tour of Romandie. However, the Astana rider, who told Cyclingnews that he would have dedicated the win to his late teammate, Michele Scarponi, lost out to Stefan Küng (BMC Racing) in a two-up sprint into Bulle.
Grivko was handed his suspension on April 20 by the UCI after the sport's governing body found that he had breached regulation 12.1.005. The suspension stems from an incident that took place during February's Dubai Tour in which Grivko punched Kittel in the face. He was removed from the race but said at the time he was trying to protect himself from Kittel's dangerous riding after the pair clashed in the cross-winds. Only Grivko was sanctioned and on May 1 he will start his ban. At the finish of stage 2 at Romandie, he told Cyclingnews that the UCI should have looked at Kittel's conduct and that he found their inaction hard to understand.
"It's the UCI's choice and I'll come back after 45 days but it's not good or nice that they've just sanctioned me and not Kittel," he told Cyclingnews.
"He did a really dangerous ride. It's ridiculous. As a minimum, they should open a case to see if he was riding regular or if he was doing too much in this 'fight for position'. My reaction was involuntary. It was reactionary to the action of Kittel. It was protection to stop me from crashing. In this case, the UCI must implement rule 12.1.024 and give me a verbal action. All sprinters must be more careful within the fight for position and in my case, I repeat that the UCI must do something. He was the first to do this mistake and as a consequence, there was my reaction. I want a more respectful peloton for the riders."
Grivko formed part of a four-man break in Romandie and came into the finale with Küng. The BMC Racing rider led the sprint out and although Grivko was in the perfect position he was unable to come around Küng.
"It was a really hard day and we tried to go easy yesterday so that I could get in the break today. It was a good opportunity and we made a strong break that had about five minutes on the bunch. We managed the gap well in the hard conditions and I felt good. Küng was strong and he's a powerful guy but I had a good position. I made a mistake by going with too hard a gear in the finale. He did a strong sprint and when I changed down a gear I just had nothing left in my legs. In the end, I'm happy with second place."
Riding for Michele
Grivko and his Astana teammates are still coming to terms with the death of Scarponi after the Italian was killed while out training last week. Grivko and Scarponi raced together for several years and were part of Vincenzo Nibali's Tour de France winning team in 2014.
"Today I tried to do it for my friend, Michele," Grivko said.
"I tried to win the stage for him. I finished second but I want to win a race for him. We were close. When he came onto the team we had a good relationship and we won a lot of races together, the Tour de France with Nibali, and we were friends in a big group. It's not been easy. We tried to get a result in Liège and now we've come here also. It's not been an easy period."
Grivko then reflected on the last few weeks before heading to his team hotel.
"For me, the suspension is nothing compared to what happened recently."