The Italian will return to racing this weekend after a five-week ban for lashing out at the Tour

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Gianni Moscon said he initially felt “sacrificed” by Team Sky after he was kicked off the Tour de France for lashing out at another rider.

The Italian was given a five-week ban by the UCI after he was filmed striking out at Frenchman Elie Gesbert (Fortuneo-Samsic) early on stage 15.

Moscon released a video apology after the incident, but told La Gazzeta dello Sport in an interview “I was not at fault.”

The 24-year-old will return to racing at the Coppa Agostoni one-day race in Italy this weekend.

>>>Gianni Moscon suspended for five weeks by UCI for Tour de France punching incident

Speaking to Gazzetta on the day his suspension ended, Moscon said: “Straight after the Tour, I didn’t like the attitude of the team too much. I had the impression that they had ‘sacrificed’ me even though I wasn’t at fault. But I’ve reflected on it. I don’t think they could have done otherwise, and the Tour was there to be won,”

He added “they wanted to demonstrate that even Sky could be punished” – a reference to the fact Chris Froome was absolved by the UCI in his salbutamol case on the eve of the Tour.

Moscon has proved a controversial figure in the peloton, and the incident with Gesbert was not the first strike against his name.

Last year, Moscon racially abused then FDJ rider Kévin Reza at the Tour de Romandie. He was allowed to finish the race but was later punished by Sky.

Then in the 2017 World Championships, Moscon was disqualified from the race after a video of him emerged being towed by the Italian team car following a crash.

Last October, Moscon was again embroiled in controversy after FDJ’s Sébastien Reichenbach accused the Italian of deliberately causing him to crash.

This case was dropped by the UCI because no video of the incident existed.

Speaking about his recent behaviour, Moscon said: “I’m not thinking about it anymore. I don’t care, not even about what they say.

“They’ve kept throwing sh*t at me, but in my head, I’ve gone back to the way I was as an amateur. When there was a hill, I’d attack and go away alone. I’ve gone back to thinking like that, in a positive way.

“Let them think what they want. The ones who have it in for me might get angry now if I come back strong…”

“I’m not thinking about it anymore. I don’t care, not even about what they say.

Moscon now hopes to be selected for the Italian World Championship team and compete in Austria later this month.