Italian national coach Davide Cassani moved quickly to protect Gianni Moscon and deflect any criticism of the 23-year-old after he was disqualified from the road race at the World Championships for taking a tow from the Italian team car following a crash with 35km to go.
For the first hour after the race, the Italian team was quietly satisfied with Matteo Trentin's fourth place behind Peter Sagan in the high-speed sprint finish. The Azzurri were up front in numbers and managed to keep the race together, with Trentin finishing just behind Michael Matthews (Australia).
Moscon was praised for jumping across to Julian Alaphilippe of France on the last climb of Salmon Hill. The two were only caught with just over a kilometre to go and could perhaps have made it to the finish if the Frenchman had not attacked on the cobbled section and briefly distanced Moscon.
"What happened is all my fault. I gave him the bottle and told him to hold it," Cassani openly admitted to La Gazzetta dello Sport.
"Moscon got a tow of six or seven seconds. He'd crashed and suffered a nasty blow. He waited about 40 seconds because the judges had imposed a barrage (blocking the team cars from moving up). He eventually changed bikes and set off chasing.
"I know I shouldn't have done it and I apologise to everyone because it has made all of Italy look bad. However, what happened shouldn't affect Gianni's image. He doesn't deserve to be tarred by this, he's a good, honest, guy."
Moscon could only admit his error, trying to use the crash as an excuse.
"The video is pretty clear, I can't deny it. But I don't think it changes my ability as a rider and I'll prove it in the future," he said.
"I went fast into a corner and hit [Sergio] Henao. I hit my elbow on the barriers, but I chased back on. I then went away with Alaphilippe. I thought we'd stay away but he attacked me on the cobbles. I don't know why because we could have made it."
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