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Watch: Cyclist Attacks Fan Who Knocked Him Off His Bike in Wild Incident

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As a general rule of thumb, if you’re going to attend a long-distance cycling event while in Europe, one rule you should probably follow is this: Don’t knock one of the competitors off his bike.

Along the same lines, if we’ve learned anything from the saga of Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson in the NBA, it’s that if you’re an athlete, no good can generally come of attacking a fan.

These axioms were on full display Saturday, as the penultimate stage of the Giro d’Italia saw a scuffle between Colombian cyclist Miguel Angel Lopez and a spectator.

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It seems that one of the fans, running along the edge of the narrow road, tripped over another spectator and crashed into Lopez’s bike, sending both tumbling.

Lopez, furious, stood over the now-seated fan and gave him a couple of whacks with the back of his hand — more than backhand slaps but short of anything one would fairly consider a punch.

Lopez later apologized, but in a distinctively sorry-not-sorry sort of way.

“I’m sorry for what happened, I was full of pure adrenaline. But there needs to be more respect for the cyclists,” Lopez said, according to The Associated Press.

Should cycling do a better job keeping fans away from riders?

It wasn’t even the only incident involving a spectator and a cyclist on the course Saturday.

Primoz Roglic of Slovenia was pushed by a spectator and “penalized 10 seconds by the race jury” for failing to push back, the AP reported, thus implying that a bit of combat between athlete and fan is written into the rulebook for these sorts of events.

Lopez ended up finishing 18th in Saturday’s stage and seventh overall, as Richard Carapaz of Ecuador won the event.

Roglic, for his part, finished third.

Had Lopez not lost time to smacking around a spectator, it seems likely he could have finished as high as fifth, but the more than seven minutes by which he trailed the leader and the five minutes by which he was behind the medal stand seem to have been insurmountable.

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Giuseppe Martinelli, the manager for Lopez’s Team Astana, seemed far angrier than even his rider did.

“Some kind of punishment would be totally unfair after he was the one who was knocked down and lost time. If he’s punished it’d be the end of cycling as a sport,” Martinelli told Cyclingnews. “I think it’s normal that he reacted as he did. He was on the way to winning the stage.”

“I’m only sorry that he didn’t give the spectator some more punishment, he deserved it for what he did.”

Race officials seemed to agree with Martinelli, if not about the “end of cycling” part than at least about Lopez being somewhat justified, as they decided not to penalize him for his retaliation.

All the same, considering those same race officials gave a 10-second penalty to the guy who didn’t attack a fan, that creates a bit of an odd precedent, albeit one that will certainly have fans thinking twice about getting too close to the competitors.

Referring to his fellow Astana rider and Saturday stage winner Pello Bilbao, Lopez said, “We’re happy. We wanted the victory today, and we got it with Pello.”

“If for not what had happened, I would have been there, too. I had the legs to fight for the win,” he added, according to Cycling Weekly.

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Boston born and raised, Fox has been writing about sports since 2011. He covered ESPN Friday Night Fights shows for The Boxing Tribune before shifting focus and launching Pace and Space, the home of "Smart NBA Talk for Smart NBA Fans", in 2015. He can often be found advocating for various NBA teams to pack up and move to his adopted hometown of Seattle.
Boston born and raised, Fox has been writing about sports since 2011. He covered ESPN Friday Night Fights shows for The Boxing Tribune before shifting focus and launching Pace and Space, the home of "Smart NBA Talk for Smart NBA Fans", in 2015. He can often be found advocating for various NBA teams to pack up and move to his adopted hometown of Seattle.
Birthplace
Boston, Massachusetts
Education
Bachelor of Science in Accounting from University of Nevada-Reno
Location
Seattle, Washington
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Sports




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