Tour of Hainan: ‘Fighting will never be permitted in this event’
Race officials and Chinese Cycling Association ousts Wang Xin and his entire Keyi Look squad following violent outburst on the queen stage in Wuzhishan, more punishment could follow.
Chinese rider Wang Xin may have a lot of time to think about his aggressive attack on the staff members of the Swiss national team during and after the Tour of Hainan’s 166.5-kilometre stage from Sanya to Wuzhishan on Friday.
The 25-year-old former Giant-Champion System rider and his entire UCI Continental team were ejected from the race following a pair of queen stage flareups, which were both caught on camera. The first incident occurred when Wang hurled a water bottle at the Swiss team car after being bumped mid-way through the stage.
Wang’s frustration boiled over at the finish when he viciously assaulted one of the team’s staff members, who lied helpless on the ground while being both punched and kicked. In a furious fit of anger due to what his team said was fueled by any remorse from the Swiss team following the incident on the road, Wang made his way over to another staff member to land a few additional blows before brandishing a bicycle tyre pump from the boot his team car to continue his attack.
“Following the incident post stage 7 involving rider Wang Xin, the organizing committee of the Tour of Hainan decided, in agreement with the Chinese Cycling Association and the commissaires panel, to disqualify from the race the entire Keyi Look team before further action to be taken by CCA,” read an official statement released by the organization on Saturday night.
“The team was instructed to leave the island of Hainan on the spot and will not be welcomed back at the Tour of Hainan. In any race circumstances, every participant must follow the rules of the UCI and the CCA and refrain from any violent or disrespectful behaviour that would damage the image of the sport. Wang’s behavior is not acceptable and doesn’t reflect Chinese cycling. Hainan people are known for being very friendly. The image and the reputation of the Tour of Hainan cannot be tarnished by such improper behavior. Fighting will never be permitted in this event.”
Other Keyi Look riders caught in the fallout are fellow Chinese Hou Weijie and Bieken Nazaerbieke, along with Kazakhs Maxat Ayazbayev, Islam Usmanov and Miras Torekhanov, as well as Spaniard Daniel Dominguez, who “condemned” his teammate’s actions in a video statement on social media, but made reference to “the team that hit my partner is still intact.”
Bieken was 14th on general classification at the end of Stage 7 and just three seconds shy of ‘Best Asian Rider’ Jianpeng Liu (Hengxiang Cycling Team) with two stages remaining.
After attending a meeting with race officials following the penultimate stage finish in Lingshui, Eurosport spoke with UCI Commissaire Zac Prendergast, who said the UCI stood by the decision to disqualify the team after seeing video footage of the incident following the race.
"After being able to see [the footage] this morning, in conjunction with the organiser, which the Chinese Cycling Association is the prime organiser, the decision was able to be made that the team would be withdrawn,” Prendergast told Eurosport.
“I understand there may be further actions taken that may be taken by the Chinese Cycling Association, but this outside the scope of the commissaries and outside the scope of the race.”
Swiss team manager and two-time Giro d’Italia stage winner Danilo Hondo, who was the intended target of Wang before the rider turned his attention toward another Swiss team staff member, approached Eurosport to share his side of the story prior to final stage start in Lingshui.
“The reports published by the media that we bumped into the Chinese rider are wrong,” claimed Hondo. “We never bumped into him. You can see that from the race video. He simply hit the back wheel of another rider and went down. He was obviously embarrassed and took out his frustration on us.
“We tried to approach him after the race, in fact we waited 45 minutes after the finish for him to cross to apologise for any misunderstandings and to show him and his team that we respect them and meant no harm. But both he and his team approached us with anger and everything escalated from there.”
The nine-stage UCI Asia Tour road race concludes on Sunday with a 153.8-kilometre sprint stage from Lingshui to Wanning Xinglong.