Switzerland’s Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge) is alleged to have called Frenchman Kévin Reza (Europcar) a “dirty negro” during Tuesday’s Tour de France stage to Bagnères-de-Luchon, according to Europcar General Manager Jean-René Bernaudeau.
The two cyclists were met about the issue ahead of Wednesday’s stage to Pla d’Adet, but Albasini denied that he had made the comment. Tour organiser ASO also met with Reza to discuss the matter.
“I do not tolerate racism,” Bernaudeau told France’s Sud Ouest website. “After doping, it is the other scourge of the sport. I saw Kévin very upset after the stage.”
Reza and Albasini were both in the 21-man escape from Carccassonne to Bagnères-de-Luchon on Tuesday. Reza placed 14th, Albasini 51st and fellow escapee Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) won the stage.
Bernaudeau said that the reported comments were “unacceptable, inadmissible.” The website reported that Bernaudeau called Albasini of Australian team Orica-GreenEdge later after the stage.
“I told him what I thought of his attitude,” Bernaudeau continued. “He told me that this is not true. But I trust Kévin and he was bothered.
“I told Kevin to go Albasini at the start in Saint Gaudens. I will not go on further, but I do not want to let such a thing drop.”
Orica-GreenEdge communications director Bryan Nygaard tweeted on Wednesday morning that the two riders had met and that “misunderstandings cleared up, shook hands. No dramas.”
Overnight, Orica-GreenEdge rider Simon Gerrans pulled out of the race to go home. Its cyclists Mat Hayman and Simon Yates already abandoned.