Moscon on Tour de France expulsion: I didn't do anything

Gianni Moscon has revealed that he received no additional punishment from Team Sky following his expulsion from the Tour de France for striking Elie Gesbert (Fortuneo-Oscaro) in the opening kilometres of stage 15. He is currently serving a five-week ban from racing that was handed to him by the UCI and can return to competition on September 15 but continues to train hard, convinced he will be selected for the Italian team for the World Championships in Innsbruck, Austria.

In an interview with Tuttosport published on Wednesday, Moscon denied that he had tried to hit Gesbert, despite television footage demonstrating that he had turned and raised his arm at the French rider. Team Sky released a video apology from Moscon in the immediate aftermath of his expulsion from the Tour, but the Italian has now said that he “didn’t do anything” and claimed that his disqualification from the Tour had its roots in Team Sky’s unpopularity.

“I haven’t thought much about what happened at the Tour because I didn’t have much to think about because I didn’t do anything,” Moscon said.

"If I had really tried to punch Gesbert, then in the images why doesn’t he even lean back to avoid this phantom blow? In reality, I just told him to get lost in an obvious way. But Team Sky is unsympathetic for a lot of people and attracts animosity. And, given what’s happened before, I’m the black sheep, the easiest one to damage.”

Moscon’s rap sheet over the past two seasons is a lengthy and unedifying one. He racially abused Kévin Reza during the 2017 Tour de Romandie, and though his Team Sky allowed him to complete the Tour de Romandie, he was later side-lined for six weeks.

In September of last year, Moscon was disqualified from the World Championships road race in Bergen when video emerged of him taking a tow from the Italian team car after he was caught up in a crash on the penultimate lap.

In October, Moscon was accused of deliberately causing Sebastien Reichenbach (FDJ) to crash during the Tre Valli Varesine, but the UCI disciplinary committee dropped the case in June, citing a lack of evidence due to the absence of video footage. Reichenbach suffered a fractured elbow and hip in the crash, and the Swiss rider believed Moscon deliberately caused the crash in retribution for his part in highlighting how the Team Sky rider had racially abused Reza at the Tour de Romandie.

Following Moscon’s racial abuse of Reza in 2017, Team Sky had said: “Gianni knows that there is no excuse for his behaviour and that any repeat will result in termination of his contract.” Manager Dave Brailsford refused to discuss Moscon’s future on the team during the Tour de France, though Team Sky later opted to withhold him from racing until the UCI announced its sanction in early August.

“The team was always on my side, I didn’t even get a fine,” said Moscon. “And G[eraint Thomas] was very kind to me in Paris, as were all of my other teammates.”

Returning in time for the World Championships

Moscon is scheduled to return to racing at the Coppa Agostoni one-day race on September 15 and will also line out at the Coppa Bernocchi the following day as he bids to earn a place in the Italian team for the World Championships in Innsbruck.

After previously living in Monaco, Moscon has this year relocated to Innsbruck – the city is two hours from his native Livo in Trentino – and is very familiar with the exceedingly difficult parcours.

Despite his ban from racing, Moscon began his Worlds preparation in August with a training camp on the Stelvio, where he was accompanied by Team Sky directeur sportif Dario Cioni. In an interview in this month’s edition of the Italian Bicisport magazine, Moscon said that he has been in regular contact with Italian coach Davide Cassani.

“Cassani has never abandoned me. He called me to ask what had happened and how I was,” Moscon told Bicisport.

“Davide knows how to establish an extraordinary human rapport with his boys, which goes beyond his formal role as coach. We’ll see what condition I have, but I have demonstrated with Sky what I know how to put myself at the service of the team.”

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