Grivko was expelled from the Dubai Tour after stage 3 as a short-term punishment after Quick-Step lodged a complaint. The incident occurred when riders began to fight for position during a section of the stage as they were battered by crosswinds.
“I guess Grivko had a coffee too much this morning, I don’t know what happened with him,” Kittel said after the stage.
“As soon as we went into the crosswinds there was fighting for positions, of course. I think it’s perfectly normal that you sometimes push each other. I was trying to get back into the line with one of his young teammates. He didn’t like that. So I tried to go around and came in between Grivko and his teammate, so also had to push Grivko a little bit but I didn’t take my hands off [the bars] or anything. I was trying to talk to the young guy about why he was taking a risk and at that point I get a punch in the face.
“I spoke to him in the race after that but I shouldn’t say what I said to him in an interview here. He should be disqualified and get a ban for the next six months maybe. It’s a terrible disappointment for cycling, his team, the sponsors and this race.”
In the aftermath of the stage, won by John Degenkolb, Astana and Grivko issued an apology. Kittel admitted that Grivko attempted to apologise during the stage but that his words were of little use as the sprinter needed medical attention.
“I really don’t understand how he can show this kind of reaction. It’s a moment when you have lots of emotion but that doesn’t give him the right to punch someone in the face,” added Kittel.
“One centimetre to the right and he could have injured my eye because he broke my glasses. There are 40 witnesses in the group that saw it. He sent Eisel to me saying he wanted to apologise, but for what? There’s a very thin line you can cross. If have an argument in the race, you talk about it, maybe you touch him. I have no problem with that but as soon as you injure someone, it’s over. There’s no sorry. It’s done.”
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