Fondriest hopes Moscon can learn from mistakes as Reichenbach case nears conclusion

Gianni Moscon‘s former mentor and agent Maurizio Fondriest believes the Team Sky rider can learn from his mistakes and emerge as a better person whatever the outcome of the UCI investigation into allegations that he deliberately caused Sebastien Reichenbach to crash during last year’s Tre Valli Varesine race.

The Groupama-FDJ rider suffered a fractured elbow and pelvis in the crash and the French team quickly claimed on social media that it was caused by “the dangerous behaviour of one of his opponents, Gianni Moscon”.

Reichenbach confirmed the accusations in subsequent interviews, suggesting Moscon acted in retribution for Reichenbach’s part in highlighting how the Team Sky rider had racially abused his then teammate Kevin Reza during the Tour de Romandie in April.

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Moscon has always denied any wrongdoing but is under intense scrutiny after the Tour de Romandie incident and his disqualification from the UCI Road World Championships for taking a tow from the Italian team car. He denies causing Reichenbach to crash and has made it clear he is ready to defend his name.

Like Moscon, Fondriest, the world champion in 1988 and winner of Milan-San Remo in 1993, hails from the Val di Non area north of Trento famous for its apple orchards. Fondriest acted as a mentor and agent for Moscon during the early years of his career, helping him turn professional with Team Sky in 2016.

Their relationship turned sour as Moscon confirmed his talent by winning the Arctic Race of Norway and finishing fifth at last year’s Paris-Roubaix. However, after Moscon’s string of problems, the two have cleared the air during the winter.

Fondriest believes Moscon is a hugely talented rider and hopes he can learn some valuable lessons from the events of the last 12 months.

“I hope that Gianni’s problems will ultimately help him in the future and make him a better person,” Fondriest told Cyclingnews during the Tour of the Alps, showing genuine concern for the 23-year-old Italian.

“Off the bike he’s a really nice guy, well-educated and well-mannered. It’ll be important to see how what has happened off the bike influences him personally.”

Moscon attended an 11-hour UCI disciplinary hearing in Geneva the day after riding Paris-Roubaix, with the case adjourned without a final verdict. Both Moscon and Reichenbach apparently have witnesses backing up their positions but it appears no video evidence of the incident has emerged.

Moscon was reportedly accompanied by Team Sky staff and lawyers, plus a consultant who had studied the details of the incident. It seems that teammate Kenny Elissonde, who raced for FDJ for six years before joining Team Sky in 2017, also testified.

The UCI is expected to question them again in the coming days before issuing a final verdict. UCI rules allow for a ban from one to six months for incidents between riders involving ‘behaving in a violent manner’ if a guilty verdict is reached. If cleared, Moscon could seek damages from Reichenbach and the Groupama-FDJ team.

“I’ve thought a lot about the case, trying to understand Reichenbach’s accusations and what Moscon might have done and why,” Fondriest told Cyclingnews. “I’ve tried to understand both sides of the case. One of them isn’t telling the truth and that’s terrible – it’ll stay with them forever. That’s the real tragedy of it all.

“I hope that Gianni and his entourage understand the effect that this case and the other problems have had on his profile in the sport. He’s a hugely talented rider but needs to perhaps reflect on his behaviour. If I’d still been working with him, I think I’d have pushed him to react differently, to be more humble and open.”

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