As the Tour de France gets under way, all the talk surrounding Team Ineos is about the two team leaders, Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal. But, the Tour being the Tour, there are numerous storylines running at any one time, even within the same team.
Gianni Moscon is at the centre of one; the Italian returns to the race after he was disqualified from last year. The Italian left last summer's race on stage 15 after throwing a punch at Élie Gesbert, the latest in a lengthy line of controversies Moscon has been ensconced in. He's back this year though, ready to hit reset on his relationship with the Tour, and his 2019 season.
Yet on the eve of this year's Tour de France, Moscon was in no mood to talk about his previous at the race.
"No words are needed," he said, batting away reporter's questions about the Gesbert incident in a terse exchange after the Team Ineos press conference.
"I don't need to talk about this anymore," said Moscon to a small huddle of journalists, including Cyclingnews. "I really respect your job and you have to do the same with us. Please respect us – if I don't want to talk about this, I'm not going to talk."
When asked about whether he perceived himself as a victim of media bias, Moscon once again stonewalled the line of questioning.
"I don't know," he said. "You are free to think what you want, but I don't want to speak about this anymore. I have been clear already, no? If this is the best question you can do…
"I wouldn't ask this question if I am a journalist, and if I know how cycling works and if I respect the people in front of me. I'm not going to speak about this."
When it became clear that Moscon wouldn't discuss the matter any further, the topic changed to the matter at hand: the 2019 Tour and his preparation for the race. Moscon hasn't had the best start to the year, with no wins through June and a third place on stage 2 of the Tour of California his best result so far.
After initially being down to ride the Giro d'Italia, Moscon was instead rerouted to California, saying he wasn't in good enough shape to take on his home grand tour.
"We saw that I didn't have enough time to do the Giro, and we decided to keep the focus on the Tour," he explained. "It was a more achievable goal than to be ready for the Giro. And the team was happy to have me here if I am in good shape."
Even before Chris Froome crashed out of the Critérium du Dauphiné, Moscon was in Team Ineos' plans for the Tour de France, he said. His schedule was set for a long time before Froome's brutal accident.
"I was expecting to come to the Tour since a long time," said Moscon. "I have raced pretty much with everyone [on the Tour team], maybe not in the last month, but in the previous months, and the previous season as well. We are a really strong group.
"[We did a mountain recon] after the Dauphiné. Everything went without problems. I'm here, I'm ready to race, and ready to support the guys."
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