Cyclist disqualified for punching race leader in the face during Dubai sandstorm

Marcel Kittel insists that he won’t accept an apology from Andriy Grivko.

ASTANA CYCLIST ANDRIY Grivko was disqualified following stage three of the Dubai Tour for punching race leader Marcel Kittel in the face.

A bloodied Kittel posted a photo to Twitter following Thursday’s stage showing a cut over his left eye and insisting, “I won’t accept an apology for this.”

He later explained: “When we passed a construction site, the sand began blowing and as soon as we went into the crosswinds we were fighting for position, which is always stressful, and Andriy Grivko punched me.

“I really can’t understand how he can do something like that. I get that riding in the crosswinds is always tense, but it gives him no right to act like that. He could have hurt my eye. It’s a real shame what happened.

“In the finale, my mind wasn’t 100% on the sprint, but I am happy I have no big injuries and I kept the lead.”

Astana sports director Alexandr Shefer later issued an apology on behalf of his rider.

“Today’s stage was really hard because of the wind; there were a few nervous and dangerous moments. In one of those moments Andriy Grivko has not coped with (his) emotions and hit Marcel Kittel.

“Regardless of the causes of the incident, we must recognize that our rider acted inappropriately. It is unsportsmanlike and unacceptable. We apologise to Kittel and his team for what happened.

“Astana Proteam always adheres to a strict line in matters of sports ethics, therefore, we fully agree with the jury decision to remove Andriy Grivko from the race.

“Also, on behalf of the team, management will take further decisions on (the) rider’s punishment.”

John Degenkolb won Thursday’s penultimate stage while Kittel holds an eight-second lead over Dylan Groenewegen in the general classification.

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Niall Kelly

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