Frenchman Florian Sénéchal (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) says that riders congratulated him for hitting Maximilian Walscheid (Sunweb) after the Sparkassen Münsterland Giro.
Sénéchal fell and after the German race, won by his Colombian team-mate Álvaro Hodeg, he approached Walscheid. Since, the team has said that it would discipline Sénéchal for the incident that was seen throughout the cycling world.
“That reaction is not me, it’s the adrenaline that kicked in,” Sénéchal told RTBF.
“I came back from a collarbone injury and I was scared, and in Münster, I fell really fast and I’m lucky to have not been injured.”
The incident occurred in the final 200 metres of the rain-soaked Münsterland Giro. Sénéchal had pulled off after working to help Hodeg. Then, Walscheid’s rear wheel clipped Senechal’s as the two sped towards the finish.
“But I consider this rider to be a pretty dangerous person, and a lot of riders congratulated me for hitting him,” he added.”But it’s clear that for the image of cycling and the image of my team is not good.
“I will not do it again, and next time I will have to calm down if some new, identical events happen.”
Walscheid, who will race for Dimension Data or NTT in 2020, finished fifth.
The incident spread quickly thanks to a short video clip. As Walscheid gave a post-race interview to a German broadcaster, Sénéchal appeared to hit him in the head, seemingly making contact with his face or helmet.
Walscheid stopped talking and went towards his French rival, throwing a punch as Sénéchal’s team-mates tried to stop the altercation.
Sénéchal is seen in the race footage looking over his right shoulder as he moved across the road and touched wheels. A group of riders fell down with him. It is unclear who is to blame.
“Deceuninck – Quick-Step doesn’t condone @flosenech’s behaviour,” the team wrote on Twitter. “The matter has been dealt with internally and Florian has been fined, with the proceeds set to go to a charity organisation.”
Sénéchal added: “My heartfelt apologies go to @MaxWalscheid, @TeamSunweb, my team and my fans. What I did after the race was completely unacceptable and it doesn’t represent who I am. I’m really sorry for this!”
He already lined up again in the Tour de l’Eurométropole, which saw Hodeg crash – an incident which sparked another controversy regarding the type of barriers used.
Sénéchal continued to sprint and placed second behind Piet Allegaert (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise). He is due to race again and close out his 2019 season today at the Binche-Chimay-Binche.