Diego Rosa (Team Sky) has hit back at calls for him to be expelled from the Giro d’Italia after a new video revealed the he touched Javier Moreno of Bahrain-Merida before the Spaniard grabbed his jersey and pushed him into the crowd on stage 4. Rosa crashed but was not hurt.
Moreno was expelled from the Giro d'Italia by race judges after the stage, leaving Vincenzo Nibali with just seven teammates for the rest of the race. The Bahrain-Merida team issued a public apology saying that Moreno's act was not acceptable. However the incident has continued to spark debate, with some parts of the Italian media suggesting that Rosa should also have been expelled from the race.
Experienced Italian journalist Christian Gatti wrote on the Tuttobici website that "an air of injustice was hanging over the Giro d'Italia but it seems that nobody cares about the problem. That's incredible. Unacceptable."
Gatti claimed that Rosa's slight blow to Moreno as the two fought position in the finale of stage 4 was as bad as Moreno grabbing Rosa and pushing him into the crowd. The judges ruled differently but several members of the Bahrain-Merida team have posted links to a video that showed Rosa hitting Moreno and to Gatti's hard-hitting comment. The event has only intensified the rivalry between Bahrain-Merida and Team Sky, with Rosa, a former teammate of Nibali's at Astana, coming under fire.
Rosa hit back after stage 6 to Terme Luigiane.
"For me it's all in the past, people have been speaking about it far too much. To be honest it hasn't been nice to read certain things about me," Rosa told La Gazzetta dello Sport, looking visibly upset by the polemic.
"It's true, I touched Moreno with my hand but that happens a lot in the peloton during races, we all do it. He reacted aggressively because he was perhaps a bit surprised by me touching him. But he pushed me, I lost my balance and fell on a fan. Fortunately I wasn't hurt but the whole thing has blown up since then."
Rosa denied demanding that the race judges expel Moreno.
"People said I'd gone to judges but I did so only to explain what happened. I didn't ask that he be expelled from the race. I think the images are pretty clear and the judges simply made their decision."
Rosa explained that he has spoken to Nibali and other members of the Bahrain-Merida team in an attempt to end the polemic and remain friends.
"I've spoken to Vincenzo, their directeur sportif and other riders like Pellizotti. I'm really sorry if they've lost an important rider but it's not my fault."