By Gregor Brown published
The fan deserved what Miguel Ángel López gave to him, the Team Astana boss said after his rider was knocked off his bike in the 2019 Giro d'Italia's final mountain stage to Monte Avena.
The Colombian fell with around 6km to race in the mammoth Dolomite stage 20 and lost 1-49 as a result. López returned to his bike after the fall, and then started swinging at the fan that caused the incident.
"I think it's normal that he reacted as he did," team manager Giuseppe Martinelli said.
"He was on the way to winning the stage…I'm only sorry that he didn't give the spectator some more punishment, he deserved it for what he did.
"Riders are supposed to respect the fans but the fans are supposed to respect the riders too."
Team-mate Jan Hirt saw the incident first-hand and helped López to get back on his bike. Hirt said he is unsure if fans were rowdier than normal.
"It don't know, I know that he lost time because of this, but I don't know if [what López did] was overreacting or not," Hirt said.
"It's nice that cycling is open for everyone, so fans can be close to cyclists, but I think there could also be a bit more respect became sometimes it's a quite big casino.
"For sure it's good that Miguel didn't break something and nothing happened to him, but yeah, I think that it's nice that people can be close to us but there should be more respect for use because we are doing more than 5,000 meters of altitude in these stages and we are tired some times. I also know that people want to enjoy the race the race, so it's a difficult question."
López risked being sent home from the race, as his actions violated UCI rules, but the race jury took pity over what they saw as a "human reaction". The 25-year-old now sits sixth overall and leads the young rider classification.
"Some kind of punishment would be totally unfair after all, he was the one who was knocked down and lost time," added Martinelli. "If he's punished it'd be the end of cycling as a sport."
Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.