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Deceuninck-QuickStep's Keisse ejected from Vuelta a San Juan after lewd photo pose

Joe Robinson
29 Jan 2019

Race organisers believe Keisse's actions damaged the 'reputation' of race and cycling

Deceuninck-QuickStep's Iljo Keisse has been expelled from the Vuelta a San Juan by organisers after miming a sex act while posing for a picture with a fan. The Belgian was asked to pose for a photo alongside his teammates by a cafe worker in Argentina as the team trained ahead of the ongoing race.

The race organiser decided to disqualify the Belgian from the race stating that the 'behaviour damaged the reputation and honour of the Vuelta a San Juan, the UCI and cycling in general.'

Beforehand, Keisse had made a public apology for the incident before being interviewed by police and receiving a 3,000 pesos fine (approx £60). 

In a statement, the rider said: 'I would like to apologise, especially to this lady. I made a mistake, I realise that. It will not happen again.

'I also want to apologise to everybody here, to the Argentinian people, but not only them - everybody who feels offended by what I did.

'To the race organisation, which has been in difficulties because of this. To my team... actually, I want to apologise to everybody, it was a really stupid thing to do. I wish I could turn back time but I can't.

'For me, I cannot do more at this moment than say I'm sorry and promise that things like this will never happen again.

'I made a mistake. I made a stupid movement with my hand. I did not hurt anybody - yes, the feelings - but I'm not a thief, I'm not a criminal. I'm human, I made a mistake. I came all the way to Argentina to do this Vuelta a San Juan.

'I really regret what I did but I'm here to race and I'd like to continue doing that.'

After this, the team announced that Keisse would continue the race, completing the Stage 3 time-trial last night, before the organiser subsequently decided to take its own action to expel him from the race.

The photo in question showed Keisse to be posing in a lewd fashion behind the woman with one of Keisse's teammate also putting the 'horn' sign above her head.

The incident had subsequently been reported to police while the woman in question spoke to local Argentinian newspaper Telesol Diario under anonymity.

'I thought it was an accident, but I later realised that it was not like that. I am very angry. They disrespected me - I was working,' said the worker who was unaware as to why the team were laughing during the photo.

'They can not come to another country and treat women as things, as something insignificant and worthless. I hope that at least they sanction him or call attention to what he did.

'I asked for a photo and they disrespected me. I already spoke with my lawyers to see what we do. My partner saw the situation and he is a witness.'

The incident was passed to police and was under investigation. It has also been reported that Keisse will be required to appear in front of the Third Court of Misdemeanours for his actions and that the rider may be punished by the race organiser.

Deceuninck-QuickStep currently leads the Vuelta a San Juan with Julian Alaphilippe who took victory in both Stage 2 and 3. The race continues this evening with a mountain stage from San Jose de Jachal to Villa San Agustin.