News Round-up: Intermarché-Circus-Wanty riders respond to Tour of Guangxi dismissal

Madis Mihkels and Gerben Thijssen have released a statement, as have the UCI, whilst the stars line up for Singapore

Clock19:17, Thursday 12th October 2023
Gerben Thijssen (above) and Madis Mihkels released a joint statement on Thursday

© Sprint Cycling Agency

Gerben Thijssen (above) and Madis Mihkels released a joint statement on Thursday

Madis Mihkels, Gerben Thijssen and the UCI release statement on 'slanted eyes' gesture

Both Gerben Thijssen and Madis Mihkels of Intermarchè-Circus-Wanty were withdrawn from the Gree-Tour of Guangxi on Wednesday morning, after a picture emerged on Thijssen's Instagram story of Mihkels performing a 'slanted eyes' racist gesture ahead of the race. In response, the two riders have released a statement that is co-signed by the pair.

"We feel sorry for what happened yesterday morning," it begins. "We realise that our social media publication was offensive and wrong. We feel really good in a multicultural environment, so it was never our intention to harm anybody.

"We want to apologise for our behaviour and our lack of education about the Asian culture to all people who felt offended, especially the Chinese fans and all parties involved in the organisation of the Tour of Guangxi. We accept our withdrawal from the race. This error is an important life lesson for us both, which will definitely guide us to adopt a more humble attitude in the future."

Read more: Mihkels and Thijssen pulled from Tour of Guangxi over racist photo

After initially just taking action against Mihkels, Intermarchè-Circus-Wanty quickly moved to withdraw both the riders from the event and promised to "take the necessary disciplinary steps to close this incident." Their comments were soon followed by those of the governing body, the UCI.

"The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) strongly condemns the behaviour of riders Madis Mihkels (EST) and Gerben Thijssen (BEL) for the publication on Gerben Thijssen’s Instagram account of a video including two photos of Madis Mikhels making a racist and discriminatory gesture," the statement read.

"The UCI has decided to refer the matter to the UCI Disciplinary Commission for a possible breach of article 12.4.004 of the UCI Regulations, which states that any person who, by word or deed, bemeans, discriminates against or denigrates a person or a group of persons in a manner that violates human dignity, on grounds such as race or ethnic origin, shall receive a disciplinary action."

In 2017, Team Sky's Gianni Moscon was deemed to have racially abused Kevin Reza and was subsequently handed a six-week suspension by the UCI, but as of yet, the disciplinary measures to be taken against the Intermarché-Circus-Wanty riders have yet to be revealed.

For the time being, Intermarché-Circus-Wanty are ploughing ahead with five riders at the final WorldTour race of the year, with Laurenz Rex placing highest for them in 11th on the opening day of racing. Mihkels and Thijssen, meanwhile, are left to reflect and learn from their discriminatory actions.

Read more: Gree-Tour of Guangxi stage 1: Elia Viviani sprints to victory

Nico Denz benefits from frenetic finish to take an unplanned victory at the Tour of Türkiye

Bora-Hansgrohe were euphoric on stage 5 of the Tour of Türkiye, as Nico Denz accidentally turned from lead-out man to stage victor ahead of teammate and expected finisher, Matthew Walls. The pair came across the line in first and second as a dangerous final couple of kilometres saw riders unable to make their moves and Denz ride across the line in ecstasy.

Stage 5 lent itself to opportunists with several categorised climbs punctuating the day, but the five-man breakaway eventually came undone by the might of the peloton. The unsuccessful combatants of the day were Fernando Tercero (EOLO-Kometa), Dawit Yemane (Bike Aid), Gianni Marchand (Tarteletto-Isorex), Alessio Martinelli (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè) and headline act, Jay Vine (UAE Team Emirates).

Their challenge was brought to a halt by the likes of Bora-Hansgrohe and Bingoal-WB, who worked tirelessly for a bunch sprint, an effort that paid off handsomely for the former. The final few kilometres of racing were defined by back-and-forth downhill bends which made for a quick but dangerous finale.

In this mayhem, multiple crashes occured within the peloton and sprinter supremo Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) weas amongst those brought down. In his absence, Denz opened up his supposed lead-out with a little over 1.5km to ride, but as they veered nearer and nearer to the finish, it soon became apparent that no other team could dare round the Bora duo.

At this point, Denz and Walls both carried on at a canter and were quick enough so as to sweep up the first two places across the line, with Astana Qazaqstan's Cees Bol rounding out the podium in third.

“This one is really unexpected, actually. The idea was to stay safe, and lead out Matthew for the sprint, so I took it on, but the final was really technical, even more than we expected," revealed Denz after the finish.

"I am super happy and still speechless, I really wasn't expecting this one."

Egan Bernal, Sepp Kuss and Mark Cavendish amongst those riding the Tour de France Singapore Criterium

With a little over two weeks to go until the annual Tour de France Prudential Singapore Criterium, team news is starting to filter through for the eight WorldTour teams who will be in attendance at this year's race. Ineos Grenadiers and Jumbo-Visma are the latest sides to have announced their teams.

The winner of last year's event and reigning Tour de France champion, Jonas Vingegaard, will not be at the start in Singapore, with Sepp Kuss instead leading the Jumbo-Visma ranks. Attila Valter and Jan Tratnik join the Vuelta a España winner in the squad.

Last year's race was the first edition of a Tour de France Criterium in Southeast Asia, with Vingegaard prevailing ahead of the retiring Vincenzo Nibali in Singapore. Less of a race, more of an exhibition, the Singapore Criterium sees "32 of the world's biggest names" compete around a closed circuit in Downtown Singapore and it isn't unfair to say that some of the racing may be pre-empted at times.

This makes for some exciting racing for the local fans, who turn out in their droves to get eyes on 32 of the world's best riders. Amongst its number will be Ineos Grenadiers' quintet: Egan Bernal, Josh Tarling, Brandon Rivera and Carlos Rodríguez.

Joint-record Tour de France stage winner Mark Cavendish will also be in attendance, who would have originally been riding his final ever bike race, but has since postponed his retirement for one more year in order to return to the Tour de France next summer following this year's withdrawal.

Read the full story: Ineos Grenadiers and Jumbo-Visma announce teams for Tour de France Singapore Criterium

Filippo Pozzato has ambitions to launch an Italian WorldTour team

By Pete Trifunovic

Filippo Pozzato has revealed his goal of launching a WorldTour team in the coming years, returning an Italian squad to the top level of cycling in the process.

The Milan-San Remo winner and organiser of the ‘Ride the Dreamland’ race series, comprising the Giro del Veneto, Serenissima Gravel and Veneto Classic races taking place this week, has had the goal of running an Italian WorldTour team since he retired in 2018.

“My dream is doing an Italian WorldTour team but it’s very difficult to get the money for a WorldTour team now,” the former Italian national road champion admitted.

The last season that an Italian-run team held a spot in the WorldTour was Lampre-Merida in 2016, however, their licence was taken over by UAE Team Emirates for the 2017 campaign. Pozzato described the absence of an Italian WorldTour team as a “picture of the situation in the Italian federation."

One of the key factors that contributed to Lampre-Merida’s exit from the WorldTour scene was a lack of Italian investors and Pozzato is not pretending that the appetite in his homeland has drastically changed in the years that have followed. “When I have a sponsor, we’ll see,” he concluded.

Read the full story: Filippo Pozzato and his dream to bring an Italian team to the WorldTour

Today's other headlines

From an octopus’ garden in the shade, it is time to bid adieu. Until the next time.

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