Team Sky cyclist Gianni Moscon has been disqualified from the Tour de France after hitting out at Team Fortuneo-Samsic rider Elie Gesbert after just 800m of stage 15 on Sunday 22 July.
Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas’ teammate, for those of you who don’t know, is a 24-year-old Italian cyclist with an already controversial reputation.
At the 2017 Tour de Romandie, the Italian racially abused the Afro-French rider Kevin Reza of Team FTJ. Team Sky Directeur Sportif Nicolas Portal called the actions "unacceptable" at the time and Moscon was eventually suspended by Team Sky for six weeks.
Reza's teammate Sebastian Reichenbach followed the incident up by writing "Shocked to hear fools still use racial slurs in the pro peloton. You are a shame for our sport" on Twitter, while Team Sky wrote that Reza accepted Moscon's apology.
Even before this the Italian had a somewhat sullied reputation, after he was also suspended from the 2016 Worlds road race after taking a tow on the Italian team car.
The reports that Moscon had an altercation with another rider on the Tour, on the opening kilometre of stage 15 no less, only started to filter through after the stage was complete.
Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford has now stated that the team "support and accept" the decision of the race organisers.
He added: "Gianni is desperately disappointed in his behaviour and knows that he has let himself, the team and the race down. We will address this incident with Gianni once the Tour is complete and decide then if any further action should be taken.
"We will address this incident with Gianni once the Tour is complete and decide then if any further action should be taken"
"I would like to offer my sincere apologies to both Elie Gesbert and Team Fortuneo Samsic for this unacceptable incident."
The disqualification is a huge blow to Team Sky, putting them down to seven riders for the rest of the Tour and damaging Froome and Thomas’ chances of glory and their team’s dominance of the most famous race in cycling.
Given Moscon’s previous actions, it’s a surprise that he’s still riding for Team Sky at this point anyway, but given the potential ramifications of his DQ from Le Tour, it’s hard to see a way back now for the Italian rider.
Whether it will indeed have an impact on the final result of the Tour remains to be seen.
Team Sky will continue on with Thomas, the yellow jersey and the bookies’ favourite to win the Tour, Froome, talented Colombian climber Egan Bernal, Spanish time trial-specialist Jonathan Castroviejo, Polish all-rounder Michal Kwiatkowski, the brilliant climber Wout Poels and Brit Luke Rowe.
Moscon’s most important stage was arguably the Roubaix stage, but to lose anyone in the Team Sky chain and group will be a huge blow to the team’s plans for the remainder of the race and ramps up the pressure on the rest of the team.
Speaking on BBC Radio, former cyclist Rob Hayles said: "These things happen all the time in the peloton, but there's clear footage here and that's part of the problem. It happens all the time from start to finish. It all goes off. Especially at this moment in the race, there are frustrations being taken out on each other."
One thing is for sure, the DQ won’t do anything to increase Team Sky’s reputation, which is already somewhat villainous in France, but at the end of the day - they’re racing to Paris to win the Tour, not to make friends along the way.
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