Rui Costa defends actions after crash at Saudi Tour

The race leader came in for criticism after taking his hand off the bars just before a crash

Rui Costa has explained his actions after he and another rider collided on stage two of the Saudi Tour, resulting in a crash in the final 15k.

Race leader Costa has come in for criticism after footage from the race shows he took his hand of the bars to shove NTT Pro Cycling’s Reinart Janse van Rensburg who had moved across into him in the bunch.

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Roman Kreuziger, another NTT Pro Cycling rider racing in Saudi Arabia, shared footage of the crash on Twitter after the stage and said: “I think using hands is not correct, even having the leader’s jersey.

“I hope the UCI will see this video.”

The crash happened with around 12km to race as the peloton upped the pace to close down the break, with Van Rensburg and Enrico Gasparotto from NTT the biggest names caught in the fall, while Costa managed to keep it upright.

Mark Cavendish was also held up by the crash, having already fallen and suffered a puncture wound to his leg earlier in the stage.

Responding to the criticism, Costa said on Facebook: “Feeling sad about the crash during the stage of the mate from NTT, which led to the accidental crash of other riders.

“I would like to clarify that it was Van Rensberg who accidentally came to my side and my gesture was to protect myself from crash.

“After the stage, Van Rensburg came personally to our bus to clarify that this situation happened due to a team-mate touch him and his gesture is really appreciated.”

View this post on Instagram

Hi fellows 😊 We keep the leader's jersey after today's stage! I thank to all my team mates the extraordinary work to protect me, as well as our team staff for providing us all the conditions we need. We only have to do our best. 💪 Feeling sad about the crash during the stage of the mate from NTT, which led to the accidental crash of other riders. I would like to clarify that it was Van Rensberg who accidentaly came to my side and my gesture was to protect myself from crash. After the stage, Van Rensburg came personally to our bus to clarify that this situation happened due to a team mate touch him and his gesture is really appreciated. 🙏 Everything is clear to both of us and hope it's also to everybody. Thanks for all your support. Big hug 😊 📸 Bettini #UAETeamEmirates #RideTogheter #SaudiTour

A post shared by Rui Costa (@ruicostacyclist) on

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Costa leads the race by one second over Heinrich Haussler (Bahrain-McLaren) after two stages of racing, after the former world champion took an impressive stage victory on the opening day.