Racism: Professional cyclists excluded from Tour of China after joke

Sport on tour of China

Professional cyclists banned from tour after racist joke

As of: 1:10 p.m. | Reading time: 2 minutes

Madis Mihkels was one of those suspended from the team after her racist behavior

Source: dpa/Fabian Strauch

Madis Mihkels and Gerben Thijssen film themselves making racist jokes and share the video on social media. The world association reacts immediately and imposes a drastic penalty. The two professional cyclists then act sheepishly.

The world cycling association UCI has punished Tour of Germany stage winners Madis Mihkels and Gerben Thijssen after a racist video. The Estonian and the Belgian were fined and must take part in a course to combat discrimination. The UCI announced this on Wednesday.

Before the start of the Tour of Guangxi in China, Mihkels rolled his eyes back and laughed during a break on a training ride. Thijssen published a video of this as an Instagram story. Both riders were then taken out of the race by their Intermarché team before the start of the first stage and sent home.

“We sincerely regret the behavior of our drivers Madis Mihkels and Gerben Thijssen and the images shown on social media,” the team said in a statement. They want to “apologize to the Chinese people and fans, the government of Guangxi, the Chinese Cycling Association and all parties involved in the organization of the Tour of Guangxi for the image conveyed by our sport.” More than 15 nationalities are represented in the team and we will “always advocate for equal opportunities and fight against everyday racism”.

Professional cyclists apologize

The duo had also apologized for the incident on Instagram. “We are sorry for what happened yesterday morning. We understand that our post was offensive and incorrect. We apologize for our behavior and the lack of education about Asian culture to all people who felt attacked,” said Mihkels and Thijssen.

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The 20-year-old Mihkels is considered a great talent. This year the Estonian took fourth place in the road race at the U23 European Championships and won the third stage of the Deutschland Tour in Essen. The 25-year-old Thijssen has six successes in smaller races and a stage win at the Tour of Poland in Palmares.

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