KARAK – Terengganu Cycling Team (TSG) rider Mohd Hariff Salleh says he is furious with Italian rider Alessandro Petacchi, who he claims to have punched him from behind in the sixth stage of 2015 Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) race from Maran to Karak yesterday.
He also described the Southeast Pro Cycling Team rider’s act as unprofessional.
The Kuala Terengganu-born rider claimed that the incident occurred when they were racing in the final two kilometres towards the finishing line of the 96.6km race.
“He punched me because I was in his teammate’s path…he should have acted in a more gentleman-like manner. His action distracted my concentration,” he told reporters after the race.
“I wanted to sprint away but I was afraid that he would repeat the act. I have respect for him, but if he continues acting like this, I shall lose my temper,” he explained.
Mohd Hariff also claimed that his teammate, Anuar Manan, was also punched from behind by Orica GreenEdge team rider.
However, he did not reveal the name of the rider.
“If possible, I really want to lodge a protest to the race commissar. Besides, I’ve already told TSG coach, Sebastian Duclos, about this,” he said.
Duclos, when asked to comment said that he would not jump into conclusion as he did not actually witness the incident.
However, he did not rule out the possibility to take the matter to the attention of the organiser if there was a video footage of the incident.
The French-born coach, on the other hand, said he was satisfied with his charges’ performance so far and hoped that they could spring a surprise in the final stage on Sunday.
“They were making good progress…tomorrow’s race, however, will be difficult for us since we does not have a pure climber,” he said.
“Maybe we have a good chance in the final stage on Sunday as there are only few sprint zones and I hope the riders will take up the chances,” Duclos said.
He also acknowledged that it would be impossible for Mohd Adiq Husainie Othman to recapture the white jersey from China’s Zhang Wenlong of Giant-Champion System Pro Cycling team as there were huge time gap between both riders.
Tomorrow, a total of 123 riders will race in the seventh stage spanning over 177km from Shah Alam to Fraser’s Hill, involving three sprint zones in Puncak Alam, Sungai Buloh and Gombak, and three climbing zones in Bukit Cerakah, Genting Sempah and Fraser’s Hill.