Kévin Reza has says that racial abuse should be treated on par with those caught doping in future cases, as the French rider continues to strive for change in the sport.
Reza (B&B Hotels p/b KTM) was the only black rider in the 2020 Tour de France with just five black riders in the whole WorldTour peloton.
At last year’s Tour riders chose to wear Covid-19 masks emblazoned with the slogan ‘No To Racism’ as Reza rode alongside race winner Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), Sam Bennett (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), and the other jersey winners as the peloton headed towards Paris on the final stage.
Reza says since the 2020 Tour he feels more able to openly discuss issues of race within cycling. He told Sky Sports: “Since last year, it’s been a kind of release and opening that was given to me, I grabbed it with both hands.
“It’s just something that makes me want to be able to share and interact with people, those who may or may not be racist, but at least we can have a proper exchange and I can share my ideas and thoughts.
“And that’s something that I enjoy since it’s a subject that remains taboo and that we aren’t used to talking about openly. I’ve been able to do that since the 2020 Tour de France.
“It’s not like I couldn’t do that for years, but I was given the opportunity to do it on the biggest race in the world. This is something that makes me happy and that also allows us to spark debate.”
Back in May of 2017, Reza was racially abused by Italian rider Gianni Moscon (Ineos Grenadiers) at the Tour of Romandie. Moscon received a ban of just six weeks, he also had to attend a diversity training course by his team. The UCI did not take any action following an investigation.
“I’ve known racism since I was young,” Reza continued. “I am destined to know it by my birth and my origins, it is like that. Unfortunately, it is painful and degrading. But we are used to living like that and it should not be a habit.
“I have reflected and thought for a long, long time about this, this is the biggest and most important organisation in cycling.
“They manage to ban cheaters who take drugs, which is normal… I think that racism and discrimination in general must be on a par with these kinds of acts. I do not see any other action that can be taken against racist acts.
“As a minimum, you would expect to see a racist get punished like a doper. I think this is one of the best solutions. It would show they’re taking a strong stance in terms of supporting action against the various forms of discrimination within sport.”
Racism came to the forefront again in recent weeks after Nacer Bouhanni (Arkéa-Samisc) received racial abuse online following an incident with British rider Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ) at the GP Cholet-Pays de la Loire. Bouhanni had to pull out of the recent Scheldeprijs race as he dealt with the psychological effects of the abuse..