Europcar manager Jean-René Bernaudeau has accused Orica-GreenEdge’s Michael Albasini of racially abusing his team’s rider Kévin Réza during yesterday’s Stage 16 of the Tour de France.
Both riders were in a 21-man breakaway group on the stage, with Albasini said to have called Réza a “dirty negro,” reports the Sud Ouest newspaper.
Following the stage, Bernaudeau headed to the Orica-GreenEdge team bus to speak to his counterpart at the Australian team.
“I don’t tolerate racism,” said Bernaudeau. “After doping, it’s the other scourge of this sport. I found Kévin very upset after the race. This is unacceptable, inadmissible.”
Later he revealed that he had spoken to Albasini on the telephone, with the Swiss rider denying he had made racist comments.
“I told him what I thought of his attitude,” added Bernaudeau. “He told me it wasn’t true. But I trust Kévin and he was upset. I told Albasini to go and see Kévin at the start [of today’s stage] in Saint-Gaudens. I won’t add anything else, but above all I don’t want to drop an issue such as this.”
Aged 26, Réza made his Tour de France debut last year and finished seventh on the final day’s stage on the Champs-Elysées.
Born in Paris to parents from Guadeloupe, Réza said in an interview with Adelaide Now at the Tour Down Under in January that he had never encountered racism from fellow riders.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.