Evans and Righi come to fisticuffs at the Giro
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It seems that there's not been a stage on this year's Giro where some sort of drama hasn't unfolded.
What was supposed to be a routine day for sprinters, instead saw a group of favourites chip off the front in the final 15 kilometres. But the real soap opera moment came from Cadel Evans. One of the few big names not to make the cut, he could be seen chasing at the front bunch before being involved in an on-the-bike altercation with Daniele Righi - whose team mate Damiano Cunego was in the break.
From helicopter pictures above, the pair could be seen exchanging blows.
Coming across the line, Evans was incensed.
"Righi made a mistake, he's dangerous," he said. "He went to the front and braked. You don't do that.
"I don't understand the sprinters teams," he added. "First they pull but then they are not there in the final. I am not happy with how today's stage went and, yeah, I have only a few team-mates."
But according to Righi, Evans was the rider who started it.
"What was the issue? I was working for my team," he told Cycling Weekly. "He did not like it, he put his hands on me and I defended myself. He has the World Champion's jersey. He should give it respect and respect to others."
Had Evans said anything to him?
"He did not talk. He put his hands on me and pulled me back. You need to always keep your hands on the bars, otherwise it is dangerous."
When questioned why he thought Evans did this, Righi said: "Because I was up front, trying to slow down the chase."
Asked if he'd been putting on the brakes, Righi denied it.
However, Robbie McEwen corroborated Evans' version of events. After the pair came to a stop across the finish line in what appeared to be heated debate, McEwen sided with his compatriot and told him he had seen everything and would support him "100%" if he made a complaint.
"Everyone was trying to be at the front getting ready for that last little section, then Daniele Righi from Lampre - who was supposed to be doing a job for Hondo, but all he was doing was making a mess in the front - put the brakes on in front of Cadel then pushed him," said McEwen. "Cadel leant back of course and then Righi just started to punch him in the mouth. So if they put in a complaint they'll probably throw Righi of the race. You just don't do that."
Funnily enough, a couple of kilometres earlier, Evans had also been involved in a shoving match with McEwen's Katusha team mate Luca Mazzanti. Katusha, too, had a rider in the front group in eventual stage winner Filippo Pozzato. Questioned on that incident, McEwen said he hadn't seen it.
Of course all the he-said-she-said meant very little at the end of the day.
The final word went to the race jury who slapped a 2,000 Swiss franc penalty on both Evans and Righi for "unseemly behaviour for the image of cycling."
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