Cyclist Miguel Angel Lopez Apologizes for Slapping Fan at 2019 Giro d'Italia

Megan ArmstrongCorrespondent IIJune 1, 2019

Team Astana rider Colombia's Miguel Angel Lopez rides during stage nineteen of the 102nd Giro d'Italia - Tour of Italy - cycle race, 151kms from Treviso to San Martino di Castrozza on May 31, 2019. (Photo by Luk BENIES / AFP)        (Photo credit should read LUK BENIES/AFP/Getty Images)
LUK BENIES/Getty Images

Colombian cyclist Miguel Angel Lopez has apologized for slapping a man's hat off after the fan knocked him off his bike on Stage 20 of the Giro d'Italia on Saturday.

"I'm sorry for what happened," Lopez said, according to ESPN.com. "I was full of pure adrenaline. But there needs to be more respect for cyclists."

The fan might have meant well, as he was running next to Lopez in an apparent attempt to encourage him. However, he and another fan entangled with each other and fell into Lopez, which caused him to fall off his bike.

Lopez finished the stage in 18th place, just one minute and 49 seconds behind stage winner Pello Bilbao.

According to Cycling News, Lopez will not be punished for hitting a spectator, as the race jury classified the incident as "human reaction."

The Union Cycliste Internationale describes acts of violence against "any other person" as punishable by race elimination and a fine worth up to 200 of local currency.

"On climbs like that, with so many fans on the road, things can happen, but they've come to see us," Italian cyclist and two-time Giro champion Vincenzo Nibali added, per Cycling News. "The important thing is that everything is well organized and safe.

"... The riders are always asked for a lot, but we just ask for a little more protection. I've got nothing against what Lopez did or what the fan did. Something similar happened to me last year at the Tour de France. I came off worse and it took me a long time to recover and my back still sometimes gives me problems."

Nibali finished Stage 20 in fifth place, just four seconds off the lead. Full stage results are available at the race's official website.

Stage 21, the race's final stage, will take place on Sunday.