Colombian cyclist won't be punished for 'human reaction' of slapping fan that caused collision

Team Astana rider Colombia's Miguel Angel Lopez crosses the finish line of stage twenty of the 102nd Giro d'Italia - Tour of Italy - cycle race, 194kms from Feltre to Croce D'Aune-Monte Avena on June 1, 2019. (Photo by Luk BENIES / AFP)        (Photo credit should read LUK BENIES/AFP/Getty Images)
Miguel Angel Lopez was still reportedly furious when he crossed the finish line. (Getty Images)

If there’s a cardinal rule for professional athletes, it might be “Don’t hit the fans.” Any purposeful violation is met with swift punishment from whatever league is in charge, and sports history is littered with names remembered for breaking that rule. And yet, the world of cycling might have found the exception.

Colombian cyclist Miguel Angel Lopez was competing in the penultimate stage of the 2019 Giro d'Italia, essentially the Italian Tour de France, when he collided with a fan running alongside the road. Per the Associated Press, the fan was trying to encourage him until he collided with another spectator and accidentally took down the cyclist.

Lopez fell and was captured on video berating and slapping the fan before returning to the race.

Lopez was reportedly still visibly furious at the finish line, where he finished in 18th place and 1:49 behind leader Richard Carapaz.

The cyclist seemed to eventually cool off after the race, apologizing for the incident.

“I got knocked to the ground. This requires more respect for the riders. I’m sorry. It was a moment of pure adrenaline and it happened like that,'' Lopez said, according to Cycling Weekly. “It’s very unsafe. It’s happened a lot in the Giro, in the Tour, we deserve more respect. I understand that there is a lot of emotion, but we are making huge efforts and then they come up and they knock you to the ground. What happens if you break something and have to go home?”

Cycling Weekly also reports that the race jury voted to not penalize Lopez for the outburst. The outburst was reportedly classified as a “human reaction.”

While Lopez was diplomatic after the race, the director of his team, Team Astana, was less than happy with the fan.

“I think it’s normal that he reacted as he did,” team manager Giuseppe Martinelli said, via Cycling Weekly. “He was on the way to winning the stage … I’m only sorry that he didn’t give the spectator some more punishment, he deserved it for what he did. Riders are supposed to respect the fans but the fans are supposed to respect the riders too.”

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