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GAP, France (VN) — Juan Sebastian Molano was disqualified Friday at the Critérium du Dauphiné after yelling at and slapping another rider late in the sixth stage.
The UAE Team Emirates sprinter was spotted gesticulating at his Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert rival Hugo Page, who was racing in the green points jersey Friday. It also appeared that Molano tried to slap the French sprinter in the helmet.
The race jury later disqualified Molano for the dangerous maneuver.
“On the run-in to the finish it was fast and tense and in the heat of the moment I made a dangerous mistake,” Molano said in an official statement. “I’d like to apologize to Hugo Page and to all the riders for what happened.
“I understand why I was disqualified and can only say that I regret it and learn from it.”
VeloNews asked Molano what happened as he stepped onto the bus at the finish line, who only said, “Nothing happened, nothing at all … We are friends!”
Molano later spoke to journalists after cooling down in the team bus. He was still waiting to see if the UCI jury would disqualify him when he spoke.
“I had a problem with him since the first days of the race, in the first stage, I nearly crashed to the ground once because of him,” Molano said.
“Today at 10km to go we were going 80kph and he was changing lanes and he came into my direction, and he bumped into me. Today with 10km to go, with a lot of stress, 80kph, I know what I did isn’t right,” he said.
“I hope some of the people can understand, I was fed up with this kid, because on the first day I didn’t fall by luck, and if I had crashed in the front five, just imagine, how many would have come down with me. Imagine today at 80kph.
“I don’t like to do this, but in this tension in the race, and I did it. Now we’re waiting for the UCI if I continue in the race. I told the jury the exact same thing I am telling you now.
“I am a sprinter, and I know I should always have my hands on the handlebars, but in this moment, the lights went out, I lost my nerves, and now it’s in hands in the jury.”
The incident happened late in the stage as the main bunch revved up the speed in a vain attempt to reel in the day’s winning breakaway.
Page told journalists at the finish line the pair were exchanging heated words because Molano cut his wheel in the fight for position in the bunch.
The Colombian sprinter later darted to seventh on the stage and won the bunch sprint, coming in 34 seconds behind the breakaway.
That result is erased, and he is out of the race. Page was not sanctioned.
Page also spoke of the incident, and confirmed that Molano smacked him in the helmet.
“Obviously there’s a fight for position, he wasn’t happy and he gave me a good whack on the head. I didn’t react because it’s not in the spirit of the sport. What he did is unacceptable,” Page said.
“He insulted me, but it’s not my problem. I’m only interested in my own sprint, and I don’t know why he was annoyed. It’s not the first time he’s got riled up this week, and he’s also got riled up at other riders.
“Maybe he’s just taking his frustration out on a young rider who he doesn’t know. We see that sometimes,” Page said. “Personally I wouldn’t go whacking young riders on the head if I was a bit older.”
— Marcelo La Gattina (@MLaGattina) June 10, 2022