Team Sky to rule on Gianni Moscon following conclusion of Tour de France

Gianni Moscon’s Team Sky future is in doubt after he was disqualified from the Tour de France for punching another rider.

The 24-year-old Italian added to his troubled disciplinary record when he hit out at Fortuneo-Samsic’s Elie Gesbert just 800 metres into Sunday’s 181.5km stage from Millau to Carcassone.

In a statement, Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford said a decision on whether Moscon would face further action will be made after the Tour.

“We support and accept the decision by the race organisers to exclude Gianni Moscon from the Tour de France,” Brailsford said.

“Gianni is desperately disappointed in his behaviour and knows that he has let himself, the team and the race down.

“We will address this incident with Gianni once the Tour is complete and decide then if any further action should be taken.

“I would like to offer my sincere apologies to both Elie Gesbert and Team Fortuneo Samsic for this unacceptable incident.”

A communique from race commissaires said Moscon had been disqualified for “particularly serious aggression”.

Moscon’s exit leaves Sky with seven riders, though they had been along among the teams targeting general classification in not losing a rider already.

Though talented, Moscon is reaching a point where he may be more trouble than he is worth.

In 2017 he was suspended for six weeks and sent on a diversity awareness course after racially abusing FDJ’s Kevin Reza during the Tour de Romandie, while in June this year he was cleared of deliberately causing a crash with Reza’s team-mate Sebastien Reichenbach – an incident which was alleged to be related.

Moscon was also disqualified from last year’s world championship road race after hanging on to a team car.

When Moscon was disciplined by Sky for the racist abuse of Reza, the team said: “Gianni knows that there is no excuse for his behaviour and that any repeat will result in termination of his contract.”

The incident overshadowed a day in which Geraint Thomas comfortably retained the yellow jersey as Magnus Cort Nielsen won his first career Tour stage, outsprinting Jon Izagirre of Bahrain-Merida and Bauke Mollema of Trek-Segefredo to deliver back-to-back wins for Astana.

Thomas finished safely in the pack some 13 minutes later, alongside team-mate Chris Froome and Tom Dumloulin of Team Sunweb to ensure there is no change at the top of the general classification, which Thomas leads by one minute and 39 seconds from Froome, with Dumoulin a further 11 seconds back.

Thomas spent his post-race press conference answering questions about the negativity Sky so often face in France – a situation unlikely to be helped by Moscon’s actions, particularly as he struck out at a Frenchman.

“For me this is the highlight of my career, it’s a massive honour and privilege to be wearing the jersey and have such an incredible race so far,” he said. “There’s a bit of negativity around and it isn’t nice but at the end of the day you need to stay strong in your head and crack on.

“The way I see it, I’d rather be in this jersey having the race of my life and getting booed than being 30th and dropped on the first climb and everyone cheering me on.”

On a day when the French newspaper Liberation wrongly described Froome’s recent salbutamol case as a ‘positive test’ which was ‘white-washed’ by the UCI, Thomas said questions about why there is ill-feeling towards Team Sky was perhaps one for the French press.

“It’s not a nice situation, and obviously we would prefer everyone to love us, but I’m not sure it’s anything we’ve done, or especially that I’ve done, to deserve it,” he said. “You would have to ask the public, and maybe it’s a reflection of the way we’re perceived in the French media. It’s maybe a question for some of you guys.”

Fan reaction on Sunday’s 181.5km stage from Millau was more muted a day after Froome had an unidentified liquid thrown on him on the climb to Mende.

Mitchelton-Scott’s Luke Durbridge used Twitter to describe some of the behaviour on Saturday as “disgraceful” – comments which were appreciated by the four-time Tour winner.

“It doesn’t get us down, we stay focused on the race, but it is really nice to feel that camaraderie,” Froome said before Sunday’s stage. “A lot of guys are speaking out about it now, the riders are sick and tired of it.”

The targeting of Froome has reached a point that Bahrain-Merida manager Brent Copeland said he had told his riders not to follow him because it was too dangerous, having seen his star man Vincenzo Nibali crash out of the Tour after tangling with a fan on the Alpe d’Huez.

Asked about Copeland’s comments, Froome said: “It’s a pretty sad situation if that is correct.”

Thomas and Froome will now enjoy Monday’s rest day before the intriguing intra-team battle for yellow resumes on Tuesday, with three tough days in the Pyrenees having the potential to be decisive.

Froome, chasing a record-equalling fifth Tour title, will no doubt have ideas on where he might snatch yellow away, but Thomas warned he would not give up the jersey easily.

“I think I would have to have a bad day,” he said. “I wouldn’t give it up for any money. It’s the yellow jersey in the Tour de France, It’s a massive honour just to be wearing it. Obviously I want to wear it as long as possible.

“Like I’ve said from the start, who know what is around the next corner. We’ll take each day as it comes.”

- Press Association

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