Trek-Segafredo have suspended Quinn Simmons after he made "divisive, incendiary, and detrimental" statements online, with the rider later apologising.
The 19-year-old American's response to a tweet about U.S. President Donald Trump triggered backlash on social media, with people calling for a boycott of the bike brand.
In a post on Twitter, cycling journalist Jose Been said: "My dear American friends, I hope this horrible presidency ends for you. And for us as (former?) allies too.
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"If you follow me and support Trump, you can go. There is zero excuse to follow or vote for the vile, horrible man," Been added, to which Simmons replied with a hand-waving emoji with a Black skin tone.
Trek-Segafredo condemned Simmons' comments, saying they valued inclusivity and diversity.
"While we support the right to free speech, we will hold people accountable for their words and actions," the team said in a statement.
"Regrettably, Simmons made statements online that we feel are divisive, incendiary, and detrimental to the team, professional cycling, its fans, and the positive future we hope to help create for the sport."
In response, he will not be racing for Trek-Segafredo until further notice.
The team and rider then released further statements on Thursday night, saying:
"Trek-Segafredo is an organization that values inclusivity and supports a more diverse and equitable sport for all athletes. Quinn Simmons was not suspended because of his political views. He was suspended for engaging in conversation on Twitter in a way that we felt was conduct unbefitting a Trek athlete. The following is a statement from Simmons and Team Management."
Simmons in his own statement, offered an apology: "As an American rider, I have always been proud to represent my country. Riding for an American team has been a lifelong dream. A big reason I chose this team was because of the American values behind it.
"To those who found the color of the emoji racist, I can promise that I did not mean for it to be interpreted that way. I would like to apologize to everyone who found this offensive as I strongly stand against racism in any form.
"To anyone who disagrees with me politically, that is fine. I won’t hate you for it. I only ask the same."
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