An emotional Juan Pedro Lopez (Trek-Segafredo) has apologised for throwing a bottle at Sam Oomen (Jumbo-Visma) after the pair clashed on Stage 9 at the Giro d’Italia.
Lopez produced a gritty ride to cling to the leader’s pink jersey on Stage 9, coming home 1’46” adrift of surprise winner Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe).
However, the Spaniard used the start of his post-race interview to confess to the incident with Oomen.
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“Before any questions, I want to say sorry to Sam Oomen because in one moment of tension, he tried to push me and I lost my mind and threw a bottle at him,” said Lopez.
“I want to say sorry.”
Lopez’s lead in the general classification may have been slashed to 12 seconds after the fireworks on Blockhaus, but it was a tremendous achievement just for him to keep pink after a brutal day on the bike. It was made even more impressive after he was forced to briefly stop on the final climb after a concertina effect of slowing riders ahead of him.
Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) finished in the lead group to move second in GC, with Romain Bardet (Team DSM), Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) and Hindley among those within shooting distance of Lopez.
“This is one dream for me. I don’t believe this moment,” continued Lopez.
“For sure I didn't believe I would be here at the top of Blockhaus before the rest day with the maglia rosa. Today we need to enjoy the dinner and also every moment."

‘A photo finish in the mountains!’ - Watch thrilling finish on Blockhaus as Hindley wins

‘He might have just dobbed himself in’

Over on The Breakaway, 12-time Giro stage winner Robbie McEwen expressed his concern that Lopez’s confession might lead to punishment from the race commissaires.
“This might be the first they hear of it. Maybe it wasn’t picked up on camera, maybe it wasn’t seen by a commissaire,” began McEwen.
“But now saying it, as the Flemish like to say, 'this story can grow a tail.'”
He continued: “Obviously [it was] heat of the moment. He probably looked at himself and feels really bad about it.
“But he might have just dobbed himself in and got himself in trouble because no matter how it came about, he’s apologised and feels bad about it, the commissaires may say, ‘now we’re aware of it, rules are rules and we have to do something.’
“Within racing, that is quite a serious incident to the commissaires so we’ll see what they do with it.”

‘His best performance’ – Lopez hailed after surviving Blockhaus in pink

Assuming he survives any inquest, Lopez will head into the second rest day in pink seeking to recharge in the knowledge more tests in the mountains await.
“It was nice to hear him apologise,” said Dan Lloyd.
“It’s not normally the first thing you hear someone in the pink jersey do, even if they have had a burst of anger towards somebody.
“These things happen in the bunch, especially I imagine when you’re in the pink jersey, there’s so much pressure on your shoulders.”
Adam Blythe, who in the build-up to Sunday’s monster stage had claimed riders would want “to strap a rocket onto their bums”, added: “He seems like such a sweet man and a really friendly person.
“He looked emotional because of what he had done, not from being in the pink. He was a bit disappointed by how he reacted, it was obviously really playing on his mind.”
It is not the first run-in Oomen has had with a bottle at this year’s Giro. The Dutchman was also wiped out earlier in the race after trying to give a spectator his bidon.
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