Former US National Champion Larry Warbasse (AG2R La Mondiale) slammed Ruben Guerreiro (EF Pro Cycling), the winner of stage 9 of the Giro d'Italia, alleging that the Portuguese rider had failed to collaborate sufficiently in the breakaway of the day.
Warbasse said Guerreiro "didn't help at all", while Guerreiro responded by defending himself, saying "the important thing was the victory."
On the 208km stage starting in San Salvo, Warbasse and Guerreiro were in an eight-man breakaway on the rain-soaked trek across Abruzzo, culminating in the ascent of Roccaraso where Guerreiro outpowered Jonathan Castroviejo (Ineos Grenadiers).
Dropped on the day's previous climb, the second category ascent of Bosco di Sant'Antonio, Warbasse was fuming after he crossed the line in fifth place.
"Guerreiro was riding like a real asshole today, he didn't help at all. So I guess maybe he was smart, but he saved his legs for the sprint," Warbasse told reporters as the rain teemed down at the finish.
"No-one liked the way he was riding. He was shirking, but that's bike racing."
Guerreiro defended himself strongly in his winner's press conference, as he celebrated taking EF Pro Cycling's second summit finish stage win of the first week after teammate Jonathan Caicedo scored victory on Mount Etna.
"I used to be one of the guys that worked more in the breaks," Guerreiro said.
"I did that in the Vuelta last year" – where he finished second behind Jumbo-Visma climber Sepp Kuss at Santuario del Acebo – "and again in Tirreno-Adriatico" – where on stage 7 he took second behind Alpecin-Fenix leader Mathieu van der Poel.
"Warbasse rode pretty well. Maybe he was going for the overall," Guerreiro added.
"That's cycling. For me the important thing is to take victory, the second for our team. I can be really proud."
Guerreiro jumped away from the break with Castroviejo six kilometres from the line after the Spaniard attacked and he was the only breakaway able to follow.
"Castroviejo was the strongest on the flat, where I was suffering and I had to save some energy for the last kilometre, which I knew would suit me well. I didn't work so much in the break – the important thing was to win."
Warbasse said he had suffered badly before the finale.
"I was reallly, really, really on the limit on the second to last climb. I gave it everything. I'm pretty disappointed, because I thought if I got in the breakaway I could win, but not today."
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