Iljo Keisse has been kicked off his first race of the year after he was reported to police for inappropriate behaviour towards a female fan.
The Belgian was training with team-mates in Argentina on Friday when a fan asked for a picture with the riders.
Keisse (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) was photographed miming a sex act behind the woman, who said she felt “disrespected and worthless” after the incident.
The organisers of the Vuelta a San Juan announced late on Tuesday night that Keisse would be removed from the race.
A statement from race management said: “The organisation has taken the decision to take rider Iljo Keisse out of the race for behaviour that affects the reputation and honour of the organisation and the return to San Juan, the UCI and cycling in general.”
The organisers cited UCI rules, which state: “A licensee must have correct presentation at all times and behave appropriately in all circumstances, even outside races.
“You must abstain from acts of violence, threats, insults and other discourteous behaviour or that puts others in danger.”
Keisse and his Quick-Step team-mates were out on a training riding in Argentina on Friday (January 25) when the woman asked for a picture.
The photo shows the woman posing with the group of riders from the Belgian WorldTour team, with one raising two fingers above her head while Keisse is posed behind her with one arm raised behind his head.
Speaking to Argentinian newspaper Telesol Diario, the fan said: “I thought it was an accident, but I later realised that it was not like that.
“I am very angry. They disrespected me – I was working.
“They can not come to another country and treat women as things, as something insignificant and worthless.”
Keisse apologised on Wednesday, saying he spoke with police on Monday after the fan made a complaint and that the case was closed.
He said: “I would like to apologise, especially to this lady.
“I made a mistake, I realise that. This will not happen again.
“I want to apologise to everyone here, the Argentinian people, everyone who feels offended. The race organiser has been in difficulty because of this. And to my team. It was a really stupid thing to do. I wish I could turn back time, but I can’t.”
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