Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl has said that it is “disgusted” to hear reports that one of the squad’s riders, Florian Sénéchal, was doused with urine by a spectator during Sunday’s edition of Paris-Roubaix.
Sénéchal, who finished 13th in the Roubaix velodrome after crashing earlier in the race, told French newspaper La Voix du Nord that he was sprayed with a mixture of beer and urine as he raced out of the Cysoing sector of cobblestones.
“I was riding with Alexander Kristoff at the exit of Cysoing,” the 28-year-old said. “I feel something splash on my arm. I think it’s beer, but I actually smell it’s urine.
“There, I’m totally demoralized… I don’t understand how we can do that.”
A spokesperson for Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl told VeloNews: “We are obviously disgusted to hear that urine was thrown over Florian and while we are delighted to see fans back at races and enjoying themselves, we ask them to respect the athletes taking part.”
> Paris-Roubaix: Who was at fault for Lampaert crash?
Sénéchal’s incident with the so-called fan rounded off a frustrating afternoon for both the rider and his Quick-Step team, who endured an uncharacteristically torrid cobbled classics campaign.
The French rider had crashed heavily only a few kilometres earlier on the crucial Mons-en-Pévèle sector, allegedly while trying to avoid a spectator who had encroached onto the course.
“Although television didn’t show it, Florian Sénéchal crashed because of a spectator,” his team manager Patrick Lefevere said after the race. “He was on the wheel of Lampaert when Wout van Aert made an acceleration and a spectator hit his handlebar.
“He went over the bars and hit his head. He was a bit unsure where he was for a few seconds, and it was impossible to come back.”
Lefevere was criticised for his comments after the race, both for suggesting that it was a fan’s fault that Sénéchal fell – with a recently published video indicating that the crash was simply a technical error on the rider’s part – and for allowing the Frenchman to continue despite showing signs of concussion.
Quick-Step’s misery at the Hell of the North, won by Ineos’ Dylan van Baarle, was later compounded by Yves Lampaert’s dramatic and controversial collision with a spectator on the penultimate sector of cobbles at Hem. The former Belgian champion was in a strong position for a podium place at the time of the crash but had to settle for tenth in the end.
> Chris Froome spat at by spectator during today's Tour de France stage
Though an extremely rare occurrence, riders being doused with urine isn’t new to professional cycling.
In 2015 Chris Froome had a cup of urine thrown at him during stage 14 of the Tour de France to Mende. Days later a spectator spat at the Team Sky leader, while another aimed a punch at his teammate Richie Porte, prompting the British squad to accuse the French media of stirring up public resentment against their riders.
“We're human beings, and then we're sportsmen," Froome said at the time. “People need to remember that.
“You can't come to a bike race to spit at people or to punch people or to throw urine at them – that's not acceptable at any level.”
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