The Giro d’Italia‘s race jury sent Spaniard Javier Moreno (Bahrain-Merida) home on Tuesday evening after he was witnessed pushing and causing Geraint Thomas‘s mountain helper Diego Rosa to crash during stage four.
Two-time Giro winner Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) loses an important helper with Moreno gone. He sat 83rd before the UCI jury made its call.
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“It’s not good for any cycling team, no matter who the sponsors are,” Bahrain-Merida General Manager Brent Copeland told Cycling Weekly.
“The images on TV weren’t great and we don’t support any type of violence in cycling. We respect it, as long as the UCI spoke to both riders.
“From our side, we don’t have all the details. I know that Rosa was pushed and they had words between themselves, but until I see Moreno, I can’t give many details.”
The UCI jury called it an “act of violence” and fined Moreno 200 Swiss Francs as well as eliminating him from the race.
Nibali, winner last year and in 2013, will head into the next three weeks one man short as he tries to defend his title.
“Any rider missing from the GC team is a loss, it’s part of the game and part of cycling. Sometimes you lose riders to crash or other means. Losing a rider in this way is not great for any team, but we will support what the UCI decide. We don’t support violence in cycling.”
Rosa joined Sky this year to help Thomas and Landa for the Giro d’Italia overall after supporting Fabio Aru and Vincenzo Nibali in the past. The 28-year-old stopped briefly at the finish line after climbing Mount Etna today.
“You can all see what happened,” Rosa said. “It was a stressful moment of the race. If a guy pushes the other guy out of the road in the public. Dangerous? Yeah, if he drops and crashes and breaks it all.”
Images show Moreno saying something to Rosa and with his hand on Rosa’s back, pushing him to the left towards the public.
“Did I fall? Yeah, I changed the bike,” Rosa added. “It was a moment of stress, we ran into each other, and he touched me, I touched him, and then he threw me off.”
Moreno rode straight to Bahrain’s red and blue team bus. Outside, his sports directors waited.
“Moreno was shaking because he said that Rosa gave him a hit,” Gorazd Stangelj said.
“I only saw the back of Rosa on the TV, but nothing else, but Moreno didn’t have anything to with that… he crashed much later.”