Rally Cycling's Franz speaks out about bullying at Giro d'Italia Donne

Heidi Franz (Rally Cycling) at the Giro d'Italia Donne
Heidi Franz (Rally Cycling) at the Giro d'Italia Donne (Image credit: Getty Images)

Rally Cycling's Heidi Franz has taken to social media to speak out against the bullying she said she experienced during stage 9 at the Giro d'Italia Donne

On Saturday, Franz finished as part of the last main group to reach the top of the summit of Monte Matajur where she says other riders in that group mocked and bullied her as she pushed on to the finish line.

"Being mocked and bullied in the groupetto today was one of the worst experiences I’ve had in a bike race. On day nine of the Giro d'Italia Donne and there’s absolutely no place for that when people are on the edge and on their limit," Franz wrote in a post on Twitter following the race.

When asked who was bullying and mocking her as she tried to reach the finish inside the maximum time limit Franz confirmed in a reply on her post that it was: "Other riders. Just for riding and being concerned about time cut."

Stage 9 was the toughest day on paper at the 10-day Giro d'Italia Donne, with a route that included 122.6 kilometres from Feletto-Umberto to the summit finish at Monte Matajur, a 1,642-metre mountain in the Julian Alps on the border between Italy and Slovenia.

Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (SD Worx) won the stage by 1:06 ahead of teammates Demi Vollering and maglia rosa Anna van der Breggen. Franz was part of a group of around 20 that finished 31:58 down, which was within the time limit which means they can start the final stage on Sunday.

Franz made it clear following the race that there is absolutely no place in sport for bulling of any kind. 

Cyclingnews has reached out to Rally Cycling and will update this story with additional information.

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Koppenburg forced to abandon due to crash

It was also a tough day for Rally Cycling because they lost their GC leader Clara Koppenburg, who crashed on stage 9 and was forced to abandon the race. Rally Cycling have not confirmed the extent of her injuries but suspect a broken collarbone.

"Clara Koppenburg had a fall in the front group on stage 9 of Giro d'Italia Donne and has been forced to withdraw. Expected collarbone and arm injury. Headed to the hospital for more tests," Rally Cycling stated. "We're sorry to see [her] time in this year's [Giro] come to an end. We wish her all the best in her recovery."

Koppenburg was positioned 22nd in the overall classification ahead of stage 9 but she was one of the favourites for a potential victory at the summit of Monte Matajur. The team's other climber, Krista Doebel-Hickok, was forced to leave on stage 5 after fracturing her wrist.

Rally Cycling will line up for the finale at stage 10 on Sunday with three riders remaining in the race: Franz, Sara Poidevin and Katie Clouse.

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Kirsten Frattini
Women's Editor

Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.