Two sides to every story: Grivko shares account of Dubai skirmish with Kittel that led to expulsion

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He’s not as well known as Marcel Kittel. He wasn’t bloodied like the German rider was after their mid-race spat at the Dubai Tour. And he was kicked out of the race, while Kittel was not. But in a Facebook post Thursday, Ukrainian rider Andriy Grivko insisted there are two sides to every story, and that Kittel was far from innocent in the exchange that took place that left Kittel bleeding from his left eye.

“In fighting for position, and as it was confirmed by Kittel himself, he has roughly pushed with his shoulder [first] 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,” Grivko wrote. “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.”

Strong crosswinds caused tempers to flare and boil over, as Grivko (Astana) and Kittel (Quick Step Floors) got into a heated quarrel, with Grivko throwing a punch that landed on Kittel’s face. Grivko was subsequently kicked out of the race, and the Astana team issued an apology. However, Kittel was not satisfied and is calling for a six-month ban for the 33-year-old Ukrainian.

“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,” said Kittel. “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 Kittel.

“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.

Andriy Grivko (Astana), 2014 Tour de France. Photo: LB/RB/Cor Vos.

“He sent Bernie Eisel to me that he wanted to apologise, but for what should he apologise — it’s too late,” Kittel told Cycling Weekly. “There is a very thin line that you can cross. If you have an argument in the race, you have an argument, you talk about it, okay, and maybe even you touch the other guy a little bit, no problem. I have no problem with that.”

Grivko’s Facebook post is presented below, in its entirety.

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.

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