Earlier this week Belgian Deceuninck-QuickStep rider Iljo Keissewas was accused of rubbing his genitals on a waitress while she was having a photo taken with him and some team-mates.
He was thrown off the race and fined by a judge.
Team manager Patrick Lefevere was reportedly so incensed by the decision that he briefly threatened to withdraw the team from the race.
Several of the team’s riders then sat out Wednesday’s podium ceremony, citing ‘fatigue’.
Yesterday we reported that Keisse’s father said that the woman involved was partly to blame. Google Translate (perhaps unfairly) has one of his comments down as: "That woman is also very suggestive with her ass behind.”
Keisse, for what it’s worth, had already apologised.
None of this is a good look and Cycling News reports on “tensions” between the team and new title sponsor Deceuninck. Specialized has also said it is taking the matter "extremely seriously" and is "working with the team reinforce the expectations" it holds of riders.
All of which perhaps explains why the team has now issued a “sincere apology,” in which it promises to implement “specific conduct training protocols” to ensure “this kind of thing won’t happen again.”
“The Team would like to make a sincere apology for the events of the past few days, firstly to the woman involved in this regrettable incident, and additionally to all women, fans, and sponsors. We don’t condone this type of behaviour. Our team’s core values include mutual respect, and that was not upheld in this situation. Iljo also personally acknowledges his mistake and takes full responsibility for his actions.
"As a team, we are aware that one of our main roles is to educate the riders and make sure they demonstrate respect for everyone. The events of these past days are something which we can – and already have – learned from, and for that very reason we have decided to implement in the near future specific conduct training protocols for all riders and staff to ensure our values and make sure this kind of thing won’t happen again.
"Again, we are very sorry to everyone affected by this regrettable incident.”
That would not surprise me in the least!
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