Quinn Simmons is unlikely to race with Trek-Segafredo again this season, with the team still to decide on the length of his suspension. The American was suspended on Wednesday evening for making social media posts that the team described as “divisive, incendiary, and detrimental.”
Speaking ahead of the Giro d’Italia Grande Partenza in Palermo on Thursday, Trek-Segafredo general manager Luca Guercilena said that a decision on the 19-year-old’s status will be taken in agreement with team owner Trek Bikes.
“As of now, the rider is obviously suspended. We still have to decide on the length of the suspension, but we can’t deny that with five races left in the season, the prospect of him racing again this year is remote,” Guercilena said.
“It shouldn’t be forgotten that these are the decisions and statements of a boy of 19 years of age, even if there are no excuses. We feel that we need to reflect carefully on the decisions that need to be taken. We’ll decide what will be done together with the company, which owns the team.”
Simmons was suspended following his response to a post from cycling journalist and commentator José Been about the upcoming US election, in which she asked supporters of Donald Trump to stop following her on Twitter. The American responded by writing “bye,” followed by an emoji of a hand with black skin tone waving.
The use of a black emoji by a white person online has been repeatedly highlighted as racist, and the term “digital blackface” has been coined to describe its usage.
Trek-Segafredo suspended Simmons “until further notice” on Wednesday evening, issuing a statement saying that they would “hold people accountable for their words and actions” and adding: “Regrettably, team rider Quinn Simmons made statements online that we feel are divisive, incendiary, and detrimental to the team, professional cycling, its fans, and the positive future we hope to help create for the sport.”
Simmons is in his first season as a professional after winning the junior road race at the 2019 World Championships. He completed Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday and had been due to participate in the forthcoming cobbled Classics.
On Thursday, Vincenzo Nibali, who will lead Trek-Segafredo at the Giro, downplayed the idea that professional cyclists would join their colleagues in other sports in using their platform to discuss political matters.
“As a child, I was always told that your vote was something private, so I’ve never allowed myself to make public political statements,” Nibali said.
While athletes in sports including basketball, tennis, football and Formula 1 expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement in recent months, there was no such activism on the Tour de France until the final stage to Paris, when riders wore face masks bearing the slogan “no to racism” before the start.
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