VIDEO: Marcel Kittel elbowed in the face by Astana rider Andrei Grivko
Kittel left with a deep cut and bloody face after altercation midway through Stage 3 of the Dubai Tour. Andrei Grivko disqualified from the race.
Quick-Step Floors team manager Patrick Lefevere has stated that Kittel was “beaten by an Astana rider” on the chaotic stage 3 of the Dubai Tour today. High cross winds and sandstorms affected the stage, which saw the peloton split andK ittel losing contact with the front of the race. The echelon packs fought hard to bridge back up to the front of the peloton. It was at this point we got to see the extent of Kittel's injury. Kittel was seen looking very distressed at the back of the peloton, clearly unhappy, making gestures to the race officials that he had been elbowed in the face.
It isn't the first time Astana have been acccused of causing a dispute that lead to violence in the peloton, in 2015 Dmitry Gruzdev reportly started a braul mid way through a stage. More on this incident soon, as surely there will be an official complaint made by QuickStep-Floors to the race officials. After the stage Andrei Grivko from Astana was subsequently disqualified from race.
Quick-Step Floors' German sprinter continues to lead the Dubai Tour with two stages left.
Crosswinds and sand played havoc at the Dubai Tour, taking to the ground several riders and splitting the field to pieces 70 kilometers into stage 3. It took 20 kilometers for the shattered peloton to come back together, and once this happened, Luxembourg champion Bob Jungels took the front and knocked one minute off in just two kilometers, as the gap of the escapees tumbled down to three minutes for the last 55 kilometers of the stage, which was set to conclude in Al Aqah, another new finish for the Middle East race.
Jungels, Davide Martinelli, Maximilian Schachmann and Julien Vermote traded turns at the head of the bunch and melted the advantage of the four breakaway riders, before reabsorbing them with only three kilometers left. The last 500 meters were in a slight uphill and the sprint trains had again difficulties in getting themselves together, as many riders couldn't find space for maneuvering. In the end, John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) edged his opponents and took the win ahead of Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (Dimension Data) and Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida).
A double stage winner at this edition, Marcel Kittel was boxed out during the sprint and couldn't fight for victory at the end of the stage which saw Andriy Grivko (Astana) inflict an injury on him, after sending a punch above his left eye. That blow left Marcel with a deep cut and blood streaming down his face: "Today's race was confusing because of the sandstorm and a lot of teams had to sacrifice many guys in the kilometers before the finish because of this. I think everyone felt how hard it was today, and many guys were on the limit at one point. That made the stage really tough", said Marcel Kittel right after the finish in Al Aqah.
The German then went on to explain the incident in which he was involved with Grivko, who eventually was expelled from the race by the jury: "When we passed a construction site, the sand began blowing and as soon as we went into the crosswinds we were fighting for position, which is always stressful, and Andriy Grivko punched me. I really can't understand how he can do something like that. I get that riding in the crosswinds is always tense, but it gives him no right to act like that. He could have hurt my eye. It's a real shame what happened. In the finale, my mind wasn't 100% on the sprint, but I am happy I have no big injuries and I kept the lead."
Andrei Grivko Releases Official Statement
"I would like to reveal my vision on the incident, which became a reason of our conflict situation with Marcel Kittel.
I am in cycling since 12 years old and like everyone I understand that it is normal, when the sprinters are fighting for position with 3km to the finish line. But, when it happens with 100km to go, in such a rough style and under such a tough weather conditions, it brings a very big danger to the riders.
Thus, in the fighting for position, and as it was confirmed by Kittel himself, he has roughly pushed with his shoulder firstly my teammate Dmitriy Gruzdev and then me, creating a very tense and dangerous situation that could cause not only my fall, but a big crash in the peloton.
I responded with aggressive action to aggressive action from the other side. Perhaps I got emotional, and it has nothing to do with cycling, but in extreme situations, when exists a question of safety, it is difficult to stay calm.
I believe, that such behavior, endangering the lives and health of athletes, because of their selfishness, has nothing to do with cycling as well. In peloton we are all equal and have equal rights to positions occupied by us, it doesn’t matter if you are a famous sprinter or neo-pro. We should equally respect each other.
By me, it is also a manifestation of unsportsmanlike conduct, when you require giving you a place only because you are a famous rider or you are not in a good mood.
After that incident, Kittel was repeatedly, in the truest sense of the word, spit in my direction, which I also believe has nothing to do with cycling.
I can assure that it was not “an attack on the rival”, arose out of nowhere. Moreover, as it was noted by Kittel, my weight is 70 kg against his 86.
However, once again I apologize to the race organizers, to all the fans, and of course, to my team for this unpleasant incident, which led to my exclusion from the race.
VIDEO: Riders Battered by Sand Storm in Dubai
Today's 200km stage 3 of the Dubai Tour descended into chaos as the peloton and support teams were battered by fierce winds whipping up a full on sand storm
Scene's from today's stage emulated parts of the film, the Mummy.
Several teams have posted dramatic footage showing riders and support staff in unimaginable choking conditions.
The sandstorm split the peloton into pieces with echelons of riders scattered all over the roads and team support cars doing their best to protect riders by sheltering them from the sandstorm.
Several support staff can be seen being rescued from the side of the road choking from the affects of the storm.
It's not 100% clear what happened in the peloton, but it's reported that race leader Marcel Kittel (Quick Step Floors) and John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) were amongst those who were split off the front of the field.
Due to the chaos, the race was neutralised following a number of crashes and the peloton came back together.
It was after the peloton re-grouped that it became clear that Marcel Kittel had been elbowed in the face by an Astana rider.