The Direct Energie rider jostled Kuznetsov while fighting for position, but the Gent-Wevelgem podium finisher gave no ground, and, annoyed, rode Pichot to the far left side of the road and took a swing at him.
After riding back to the group, Pichot's teammate Adrien Petit quickly forged a peace agreement and the hostilities went no further.
"We were riding with six Katusha riders together, like many teams do before the finale of the race. I was sitting in Kristoff’s wheel and that French guy (I did not know him) was constantly trying to take my position. That is OK, we even were shoulder to shoulder some time but then he hit me in my side. Then I reacted," Kuznetsov said in a statement provided by the Katusha team.
"I know that that was wrong, but it was happened. I really apologize for it. I wanted to do that in the race too but that guy was gone. Afterwards I spoke with his teammate Petit. He in bad English and I in bad English. ;-)"
Kuznetsov will not take the start for Thursday's stage, according to his team he has a fever but should be better for Tour of Flanders this weekend.
Thank you for signing up to Cycling News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.