Deceuninck-QuickStep manager Patrick Lefevere has reacted angrily to the decision to exclude his rider Iljo Keisse from the Vuelta a San Juan, saying that he would like to pull his entire team out of the race.
The race organisers confirmed on Tuesday evening that Keisse had been disqualified from the race after a waitress working in a San Juan café filed a police complaint against the Belgian. She alleged that he pressed his crotch against her when he feigned a sexual act while she posed for a photo with him and his teammates.
Lefevere is not at the race but suggested that he would be willing to pull the whole team out of the race, even with Julian Alaphilippe in a strong position to claim the overall title after back-to-back stage wins.
"If it depended on me, the whole team would leave the Vuelta a San Juan,” Lefevere told Belgian publication Het Laatste Nieuws. "We are reviewing what the UCI regulations say, and then we will quickly decide whether we will start or not.”
- Vuelta a San Juan organisers expel Keisse after woman files police complaint
- Keisse apologises for 'stupid moment' after woman files police complaint
- Deceuninck-QuickStep say Keisse incident was meant as 'a joke'
- San Juan woman files police complaint against Keisse
News about the photo and the police complaint broke on Monday evening and it was later confirmed that the case would appear before court. Keisse issued a public apology on Tuesday afternoon but was handed a 3,000 peso fine (€70/£60).
The organisers then issued a statement requesting that the team take action against Keisse. Keisse then competed in the stage 3 time trial, after which the organisers took the decision to remove him from the race. Lefevere said that he did not agree with Keisse’s actions, but he feels the decision was out of proportion and accused the woman of looking for money.
"Of course, I am not happy with the pose of Iljo,” said Lefevere. “That is wrong, and he knows that himself. But he paid a €70 fine and the police closed the case. And yet that woman continues to make something of it. She will want money, right?"
Before Lefevere made his comments, the 18-year-old waitress, who has not been named, had insisted her complaints were not financially motivated. "I don't want money. My parents have money and if I'm working here it's so as not to have to ask for money from them," she told Marca. "I did not report him for money, but for dignity."
Stage 4 of the Vuelta a San Juan is set to start 11am local time on Wednesday. There has been no official announcement from Deceuninck-QuickStep on their continued participation in the race.
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