Frankiny feeling the pinch

Tour of the Alps: Stage 4 Bolzano/Bozen to Cles

This is written after the tragic death of Michele Scarponi, which has added more sadness to the Tour of the Alps than fun.

How much do you really know about the rider next to you? Especially the man you’re in a breakaway with? I mean, how close do you get to the guy who shares the workload, the hardship, and the same ambition over the course of what can be some arduous terrain. Enough to work with him, yes. Enough to let him grab your ass, well maybe not.

Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani) and Kilian Frankiny (BMC) were descending amid breathtaking Alpine scenery on Stage 4, with a minute on the main group and 30 seconds on the plucky Frenchman Hubert Dupont of AG2R, trying to join them. Then, from out of nowhere, we saw what appeared to be Pirazzi pinching the backside of Frankiny.

Frankiny had been riding in the tuck position, saving a little energy for the final push, and resting his legs for a moment. Pirazzi was in his slipstream, but powered by his own momentum, and the gap in the wind Frankiny was providing, he began to drift closer to Frankiny. Then the hand reached out.

Frankiny seemed to notice this disturbance in the force, a slight acceleration and an uncomfortable “those aren’t pillows” sensation towards his derriere. There was a visible “huh?” before he came out of the tuck position look back to see just what the hell was going on.

What he saw was Pirazzi’s hand on his saddle, pushing him along. Whether Pirazzi was grinning, giving him a wink or blowing him a kiss, we’ll never know, but Frankiny had the sudden urge to pedal quicker, picking up the pace with a new incentive to keep his distance.

And what about the rules? I’m pretty sure assault is a no-no, but a slight push? And how about a pinch? Nobody mentioned it, and if the race jury spent any time thumbing the rulebook for “overfriendly pats on the backside”, they likely gave up pretty soon.

Regardless, Pirazzi and Frankiny rode on, albeit in awkward silence.

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