Published Tuesday, 13 May 2014
Marcel Kittel won Giro d'Italia stages in Belfast (pictured) and Dublin. (© Presseye)
The German had stormed to a win in the third stage of the prestigious race with a sprint finish, before collapsing exhausted to the ground.
But as he fought to recover from his hard-fought victory, a fan leaned in for the picture.
The image gained a lot of attention after being posted on social media, with some people criticising it as inappropriate.
In a series of tweets about the response, David McCarthy - who also cycles with Nicolas Roche's team - said he had not intended to cause any offence.
"I hope he sees the funny side of it - crazy how some people take it to heart and give me dogs' abuse," he said.
"I meant nothing bad by it - just excited to see Kittel and didn't think."
Asking people to give him a break over what he said was a joke, he also claimed that Kittel's teammates had messaged him, telling him "how funny it was".
The photo has since been removed.
Kittel, who has since been forced to withdraw from the Giro because of illness, retweeted a post by Nicholas Roche which featured an apology note from the over-eager photographer.
© UTV News