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 joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.