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Deceuninck-QuickStep and Lefevere apologise over Keisse controversy

Joe Robinson
1 Feb 2019

Rider Iljo Keisse was ejected from Vuelta a San Juan following police report into lewd photo pose

Deceuninck-QuickStep have issued an apology for the events that followed Iljo Keisse's ejection from the Vuelta a San Juan after he had been caught miming a sexual act at an unsuspecting fan in a photo.

The statement was sent out to the press late last night and was signed off 'Patrick Lefevere and the entire team'.

It read 'The team would like to make a sincere apology for the events of the past few days, firstly to the woman involved in this regrettable incident, and additionally to all women, fans, and sponsors. We don’t condone this type of behaviour.'

'Our team’s core values include mutual respect, and that was not upheld in this situation. Iljo also personally acknowledges his mistake and takes full responsibility for his actions.

'As a team, we are aware that one of our main roles is to educate the riders and make sure they demonstrate respect for everyone. The events of these past days are something which we can – and already have – learned from, and for that very reason, we have decided to implement in the near future specific conduct training protocols for all riders and staff to ensure our values and make sure this kind of thing won’t happen again.

'Again, we are very sorry to everyone affected by this regrettable incident.'

The team will hope that this apology brings an end to a controversial few days in Argentina which a barrage criticism not only in the media but from fellow teams.

Keisse was forced to pay a 3,000 pesos fine and was interviewed by police after posing in a lewd manner with an 18-year-old waitress in the days leading up to the race. The Belgian rider then issued an apology for his actions on Tuesday with the team allowing him to continue in the race.

Race organisers saw this as too lenient a punishment, subsequently disqualifying Keisse after the Stage 3 time trial claiming his 'behaviour damaged the reputation and honour of the Vuelta a San Juan, the UCI and cycling in general.'

This prompted team manager Lefevere, who claimed to Marca that he believed the young waitress was motivated by money, to then threaten the withdrawal of the team from the race.

The team continued but refused to take to the podium after Stage 4, with three riders and sports director Davide Bramati all facing fines from the UCI, although claimed this was down to fatigue rather than a protest.

The Vuelta a San Juan resumes this evening with Deceuninck-QuickStep rider Julian Alaphilippe in the race lead following back-to-back stage wins.