Kiwi cyclist George Bennett has been involved in a spat with Italian rival Gianluca Brambilla on stage 12 of the Giro d'Italia.
The duo were in contention for a stage win after being part of the breakaway on the difficult stage which included four categorised climbs.
On the final climb, four riders had managed to extract themselves, and with 15 kilometres to go were fighting it out for the stage win – a victory which, had Bennett triumphed, would have been New Zealand's first in the Giro, one of the three famous three-week Grand Tours.
However, also part of the quartet was Italian all-rounder Andrea Vendrame, who possesses a powerful sprint and was the overwhelming favourite to win the stage if all four riders came to the line together.
As a result, Bennett, Brambilla and Chris Hamilton needed to attack on the flat run-in to the line, but when Hamilton attacked with 2.8 kilometres to go and Vendrame followed, Brambilla and Bennett got stuck playing a game of cat and mouse, with neither willing to close down the attack.
That left them bickering their way to the line, 15 seconds behind, and Brambilla even illegally cut across Bennett during the their sprint for third as Bennett gesticulated in frustration. Brambilla was fined for the move and relegated to fourth, with Bennett finishing in third as Vendrame took his first Grand Tour stage victory by predictably beating Hamilton in the two-up sprint.
Brambilla has a history of anger on the bike, having punched fellow rider Ivan Rovny during the 2014 Vuelta a Espana, and wasn't happy with Bennett after the stage.
"I have nothing to say," said Brambilla, before deciding that he had something to say.
"Just ask George Bennett how to lose the race. Sometimes it's better to watch some racing on TV so you can learn how to do it."
Bennett explained his strategy after the stage.
"Today was an opportunity, and we gambled for the win. We're not here to close everything and end up third or fourth in the sprint," Bennett said.
"I can't close everything and I'm not going to win the sprint, so I have to gamble and I really can't understand [what Brambilla did].
"If I was a fast guy, I would've ridden that differently. You just cover everything and try and go for the sprint, but if you're 58 kilos and struggling to break 1000 Watts then what's the point in taking it to a sprint."
The reaction on social media saw both riders criticised.
With the race set to head into the high mountains in the next week, Bennett, who sits in 23rd place, 11 minutes behind leader Egan Bernal, is hoping he can rescue a stage victory in his preferred terrain after the disappointment of losing his ambitions for a top placing overall.
"Stage hunting in breakaways is not normally what I do, and maybe it takes a while to get the feel of that a little bit. I think the next stages as we head into the big mountains, it's more about legs than playing the game, tactics, cat and mouse, so hopefully that's a bit more for me.
"The big disappointments of last week took a few days to get over. So now I just want to try and enjoy the race and get something out of it."