23-year-old rider who attacked in finale was disqualified after footage of earlier illegal assistance emerged

Italy’s national cycling team coach, Davide Cassani, has said that he was to blame for the illegal tow that saw Gianni Moscon disqualified from yesterday’s men’s elite road race at the UCI Road World Championships in Bergen.

Moscon, aged 23, was captured on camera taking an extended tow from the Italian team car as he tried to rejoin the main group after a crash with 37 kilometres – just under two laps of the closing circuit – remaining.

He rejoined the group of riders who would contest the race ahead of the final lap and was one of the main protagonsists, following an attack from France’s Julian Alaphilippe that could well have proved to be a race winning move.

However, the pair were swept up before the final sprint in which defending champion Peter Sagan of Slovakia snatched victory from Norway’s Alexander Kristoff to win the rainbow jersey for an unprecedented third time running.

After the race – and before his disqualification – Moscon said, apparently without irony, that he thought Italy had “raced really well, without wasting energy.”

Referring to the crash, he said: “I had to work hard to rejoin the group, I was aiming to recover in the penultimate lap so I could put everything into the final circuit.”

Following confirmation of Moscon’s disqualification and with the rider coming under heavy criticism on Twitter, Cassani tweeted: “Please. Moscon had nothing to do with it. It was me who made a mistake and I take full responsibility and apologise especially to Gianni.”

It’s not the first time Moscon has hit the headlines for the wrong reason this year.

In May, Team Sky suspended him from racing for six weeks for racially abusing FDJ rider Kevin Reza at the Tour de Romandie and told him that any repeat would lead to him being sacked.

> Team Sky suspend Gianni Moscon for six weeks for racial abuse

A rising star in the peloton, Moscon is the reigning Italian national time trial champion and finished sixth in the discipline in Bergen last week.

In April, he finished fifth at Paris-Roubaix. More recently, he was one of Chris Froome’s key support riders at the Vuelta, with Moscon himself finishing 27th overall.

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.