Giant-Shimano sprinter Marcel Kittel has given his backing to the Irish teenage cyclist who took a ‘selfie’ with the German star at the end of Sunday’s Stage 3 of the Giro d’Italia in Dublin on Sunday.
David McCarthy, aged 18 and a rider with the Nicolas Roche Performance Team development squad, snapped the picture as Kittel lay exhausted on the ground after clinching his second successive stage win in the race.
The moment was captured by professional photographer Kristof Ramon who posted his picture to Instagram and it quickly went viral, and once McCarthy was identified the teenager began to receive abuse from fans who thought he was being disrespectful.
According to the Irish Independent, his family were so worried that they asked McCarthy, who publicly apologised to Kittel and anyone else he may have offended, to stay off the internet.
His mother, Colette, told the newspaper that Kittel had been in touch with her son and told him not to worry about the incident.
“He expressed his support for David through a direct message (on Twitter) and told him not to worry,” she said, although she added that she had been “shocked” by the abuse her son had received.
Kittel, who celebrated his 26th birthday on Sunday, would be missing from the race when it resumed in Italy on Tuesday after contracting a fever during the transfer from Ireland.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.