Iljo Keisse thrown out of Vuelta a San Juan and fined by judge following sexual harassment of waitress

Organisers say Deceuninck-Quick Step rider’s actions “damaged the reputation and honour” of the race and cycling

Belgian professional cyclist Iljo Keisse has been thrown out of the Vuelta a San Juan after he allegedly rubbed his genitals against a waitress on Monday as she posed for a photograph with him and his Deceuninck-Quick Step team mates. He has also been fined by a judge as a result of the incident.

The decision to expel the 36-year-old from the race was taken by the organisers of the Argentinian race yesterday evening after it became apparent that his team would take no action.

In a statement, they said Keisse’s behaviour had “damaged the reputation and honour of the organisation of the Vuelta a San Juan, the UCI, and cycling in general.”

The 18-year-old waitress involved in Monday’s incident reported it to the police and although initial reports were that no action would be taken against Keisse by the authorities, Telsoldiario has reported that he has now been fined.

Yesterday, Judge Enrique Mattar of the Third Court of Misdemeanours met Keisse and fined him 3,000 Pesos (£60), the maximum amount possible under the applicable law.

The judge also suggested that he apologise to the waitress in person, which Keisse said in a press conference yesterday he would do “as soon as possible.”

Asked what lessons could be drawn from the case by men generally, the judge said: “That things have to change, whether you are a French or Italian tourist, or someone from San Juan.  A construction worker, an engineer or a lawyer. Change.

“A woman has to be allowed to walk peacefully along the street, she must be left at peace at work or at home.

“Socially, things have changed. Enough with sexist jokes and macho attitudes that are no longer socially acceptable.”

Notwithstanding the fine imposed by the judge, according to Telesoldiario the waitress still has the right to press criminal charges should she wish to do so.

The episode has overshadowed the race itself, where Keisse’s team mate Julian Alaphilippe goes into today’s Stage 4 in the overall lead after back-to-back stage wins in the past two days.

That's assuming  he starts today's stage, with team manager Patrick Lefevere reportedly so incensed by the decision to expel Keisse that he is considering withdrawing the team from the race, according to Sporza.

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.

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