Team Sky‘s Gianni Moscon returned to racing at the weekend after a six-week team suspension due to racist comments towards Kévin Reza (FDJ), but added that “the accusations are not completely founded.”
The Italian climbed to second place behind Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac) on Friday on the Col du Tourmalet stage of the Route du Sud.
“I don’t have much to say,” Moscon told La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper when asked to reflect on the Reza episode.
“My conscience is clean, I accepted the punishment, I took my break.”
Asked if he was repentant, Moscon said, “I didn’t kill anyone and the accusations are not completely founded. But I prefer to not talk about it anymore.”
Footage showed Moscon and Reza arguing after he had led Sky team-mate Elia Viviani to sprint victory in the Tour de Romandie’s third stage in Payerne, Switzerland.
— Team Sky 🚲 (@TeamSky) April 28, 2017
Moscon reportedly had used racial terms versus Reza.
Sky called 23-year-old Moscon to their Manchester headquarters directly after the race. The team handed him a formal written warning and suspended him for six weeks. Management also sent Moscon to a diversity awareness course.
Moscon had just come off a successful Classics campaign, placing fifth in Paris-Roubaix.
“Gianni recognises that his behaviour was wrong and how seriously Team Sky take this kind of incident,” Sky said in a statement.
“He apologised to Kevin Reza after the stage and again to him and his team the following morning, and this apology was accepted. Gianni knows that there is no excuse for his behaviour and that any repeat will result in termination of his contract.”
Moscon finished the Tour de Romandie a couple of days later on April 30.
He trained over the last month and a half near his parent’s apple farm north of Trento in Trentino. He said he does not consider the incident damaging to his image.
“I remained home in Livo with my family. A few times I also went to my parent’s farm. All and all, it wasn’t bad,” Moscon said.
“I always had support form my colleagues, they knew it was something ridiculous.
“And on the roads [during the Tourmalet stage] the many fans cheered me. No, I don’t think I need to rebuild my image. Those who like me understood, those who don’t, took advantage to attack me.”
Moscon continues his return to racing this month, as he is due to race the national championships with Sky Italians Elia Viviani, Salvatore Puccio and Diego Rosa.
Then, he has eyes on a Spanish campaign: the Clásica San Sebastián, the Vuelta a Burgos and the Vuelta a España.