Alberto Bettiol has apologised for throwing a bidon towards a Tour Down Under television motorbike during stage 2 of the race on Thursday, telling Cyclingnews he accepts the UCI decision to punish him with a fine and the loss of 100 UCI ranking points.
The incident occurred as stage 2 exploded over Nettle Hill. Bettiol was struck by cramps, forced to stop riding due to the pain and so lost any hope of defending the Tour Down Under leader’s jersey he won in the prologue time trial
The Italian wasn’t initially punished after the stage by the race officials in Australia. However, it appears that the UCI decided to take action overnight after consultation with senior figures at the UCI headquarters in Switzerland.
Friday’s stage 3 results showed that Bettiol had been fined 2000 Swiss francs and docked 100 UCI ranking points. The results cited UCI regulation 2.12.007.8.2.2: Assault, intimidation, insult, improper conduct or behaviour that is indecent, directed at TV motorbike.
Bettiol regretted throwing the bidon in the heat of the moment.
“I want to apologise for throwing the bidon,” he told Cyclingnews on Friday.
“I’m not like that, people who know me well, know that too. But we’re not robots, we’re human beings and sometimes we get emotional, get frustrated and so make mistakes.
“I accept the punishment of the UCI judges. I know I’m fortunate that they didn’t disqualify me. I think that means they realise we’re all human too and all make mistakes.”
Bettiol lost his temper when he was struck by cramps and was forced to stop pedalling. When the television motorbike stopped beside him, he first indicated to the driver to move away and then threw a bidon to the ground in the direction of the motorbike.
“I try to control my emotions when I’m racing but I was disappointed in that moment because I was losing the Tour Down Under’s leader’s jersey,” Bettiol explained.
“I didn’t want to hurt or offend anyone, it was an impulsive gesture. When the motorbike stopped next to me I waved them away but they stayed there and so I suddenly saw red and threw a bidon towards them.
“It was a mistake and I want to publicly apologise to the motorbike driver and cameraman, the race and my team and teammates.”
Alberto Bettiol sufrió de calambres y dijo adiós a su liderato a 11kms de meta. Y la pagó con el motorista, que nada tuvo que ver #TourDownUnder pic.twitter.com/eUFyoknNKuJanuary 19, 2023