Monday’s stage 16 of the three-week Vuelta a España, or Tour of Spain, featured a bit of bike racing and boxing: Italian Gianluca Brambilla and Russia’s Ivan Rovny got into some pro slapping and fisticuffs midrace.
“In bizarre circumstances both men landed punches and elbowed each other whilst continuing to cycle as they made up a breakaway group of 13 riders,” AFP reported.
Race officials kicked both riders out of the race. Organisers said the fight was not good for the image of cycling or the Tour of Spain, reported Biciciclismo. “It is believed that [Brambilla] was upset that Rovny was disrupting the pacemaking in the break,” AFP said.
Here’s a quick recap:
Rovny, in yellow for Team Tinkoff-Saxo, had some sort of beef with Brambilla, who rides for Omega Pharma — Quick-Step. Rovny turns around and appears to grab Brambilla’s jersey:
Brambilla looks none too pleased by the Russian’s aggression, and he hits Rovny away:
Rovy’s looks even more upset as he pedals up to Brambilla, ducking blows along the way:
This back-and-forth goes on for a bit more, then the two sort of tell each other to get lost:
Then Brambilla actually goes off the side of the road and onto the grass. Both were OK physically after tempers settled:
Brambilla was first to get the boot. He seemed to cry once the news of his ejection sank in:
A short time later Rovny was ejected, too.
In the end, it’s a shame for all involved. The riders are now out of the race, their teams are down one man each, and the event suffers from some bad PR. The riders might fare the worst, though, because it’s tough to get a contract renewed — and getting kicked out of a major race like the Vuelta is a huge blow to your team.
Watch a recap here: