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Nibali teammate Moreno expelled from Giro d'Italia

© AFP/File | Italy's rider of team Bahrain - Merida Vincenzo Nibali (L) rides with teammates during the second stage of the 100th Giro d'Italia, Tour of Italy, on May 6, 2017 in Sardinia

ETNA (ITALY) (AFP) - 

Vincenzo Nibali's bid to defend his Giro d'Italia crown was dented Tuesday after Bahrain teammate Javier Moreno was thrown off the race for violent conduct during the fourth stage.

Before the second and last climb to Mount Etna in Sicily, television images showed Moreno riding up to and grabbing Team Sky rider Diego Rosa by the back of the shirt.

The 32-year-old Spaniard was seen shouting or warning the Italian, behaviour which officials from the race jury reacted to by expelling Moreno and leaving Nibali with one less teammate for the remainder of his home race.

Moreno was charged with "acts of violence" that earned him a "fine of 200 Swiss Francs (182 euros, $198) and elimination" from the race, according to a statement by Giro d'Italia organisers.

Nibali, the 20013 and 2016 Giro champion who also won the 2015 Tour de France, faces a tough challenge this year from 2014 champion Nairo Quintana as he looks to bag his third pink jersey.

© 2017 AFP