By Gregor Brown
Riders deserve more respect from the fans, says Miguel Angel López (Astana) after being knocked to the ground by a fan in the closing kilometres of the Giro d'Italia's 20th stage to Monte Avena.
López swung at the fan after getting back to his feet. With the last swing, he knocked the fans hat off. The race jury decided to not penalise López, who ended up losing 1-49 minutes to the GC group.
"I got knocked to the ground. This requires more respect for the riders. I'm sorry. It was a moment of pure adrenaline and it happened like that," Lopez said.
"It's very unsafe. It's happened a lot in the Giro, in the Tour, we deserve more respect. I understand that there is a lot of emotion, but we are making huge efforts and then they come up and they knock you to the ground. What happens if you break something and have to go home?"
López took at least four swipes at the fan who had been kicked to the ground, and with his country's flag draped across his back, appeared to be one of the many who had come from Slovenia to support Primož Roglič.
This follows the incident in the 2018 Tour de France's Alpe d'Huez climb, where a fan knocked Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) off his bike, with the Italian having to abandon the race with fractured vertebrae.
After the crash, López never regained time on the group of favourites, but was able to keep his sixth place and his white jersey in the best young rider classification. He will now have to try to defend it in the last day tomorrow, a 17km time trial in Verona.
On the bright side, the team won its third stage in the 2019 Giro the stage with Pello Bilbao beating Mikel Landa on the line.
"We're happy. We wanted the victory today, and we got it with Pello," López explain after the finish.
"If for not what had happened, I would have been there, too. I had the legs to fight for the win. I lost a little, but I will give everything in the time trial. I will give it my best to try to bring the white jersey home."
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