Team Sky‘s leaders Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas head into the final week of the Tour de France one team-mate down, with both men saying that they were disappointed to lose Gianni Moscon through disqualification while also condemning his actions.
The race jury disqualified Moscon due to a “particularly serious aggression” on stage 15 after threw a fist at French rider Elie Gesbert (Fortuneo-Samsic) in the opening kilometre of the stage.
“It’s disappointing, but there’s nothing we can do,” said race leader Thomas. “What’s done is done, we have to just try to focus on this last week. We are now a rider down, but we are riding together.”
Asked about the future of the 24-year-old in the team, Thomas said that he and Froome “are just bike riders” and that it is up to the team management to decide Moscon’s fate.
“We don’t choose who comes and goes in the team,” Thomas added. “We’re disappointed to lose him and in his actions.”
Thomas and Froome, sitting first and second overall, spoke on the Tour’s second rest day ahead of four tough stages in the Pyrenees where they will rely heavily on their team-mates to set tempo and pull back rivals’ attacks in the mountains.
“We all found out after the race when we were back at the hotel,” Froome explained. “As G said, the whole team is disappointed. Disappointed in Gianni’s actions and disappointed to be a man down for the last week.”
The incident will certainly affect the team, which is already dealing with anti-Sky behaviour from road-side spectators during in this 2018 Tour. On Alpe d’Huez, two spectators shoved Froome while others booed the team and Thomas as he crossed the line and received his yellow jersey.
“It’s certainly not going to help, but at the same time, we’ve been managing it really well over the last weeks,” Froome added. “Even if it hasn’t been easy. We’ll get on with it and hopefully get the job down all the way to Paris.”
This is not the first moment of controversy for Moscon. In June, the UCI disciplinary commission cleared him of hitting Sébastien Reichenbach during the 2017 Tre Valli Varesine, with Reichenbach saying that Moscon caused him to crash.
That case came after another with Reichenbach’s former Groupama-FDJ team-mate Kévin Reza, where Moscon was reported to have used racial slurs against the black French rider.
Team Sky sidelined Moscon for six weeks and sent him on a diversity awareness course after that incident.
“We are disappointed in Gianni,” said Sky boss David Brailsford. “Will make a decision about what to do with him after the race, look at processes and go from there.”