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Tour de France riders staged a protest at the start of Tuesday’s stage to complain about racing conditions perceived to be dangerous after a flurry of accidents rekindled the road safety problem.
Having left the town of Redon in the western Brittany region to take the start of stage 4, the peloton rode at a moderate pace and all the riders got off their bikes after about a kilometer. They waited in silence for about a minute before heading back on the road.After Stage 3 filled with accidents, several riders criticized the race organizers for staging what they saw as a dangerous final for a Tour stage, especially at the start of the race when nervousness was at its height. highest level.
Former world champion Philippe Gilbert said in a video that the riders’ representatives had requested that the stage 3 times be completed five kilometers from the end. The goal of the majority of the riders was to avoid a risky final sprint on the narrow, winding roads leading to the finish line.
WATCH | A spectator causes a major crash at the Tour de France:
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“We analyzed the course and saw that the final was extremely dangerous,” said Gilbert, a Belgian classic specialist.
Gilbert said race organizer ASO supported the proposal. “But the UCI (cycling governing body) commissioners did not accept the request, it was rejected in the morning at the start of the race”, he declared.
Gilbert said a pile-up in a downhill curve about three kilometers from the finish was a direct consequence.
“There was a big mistake on the part of the people who approved this route,” he said.
The CPA riders’ union said in a press release that it had asked the UCI to initiate discussions to adapt the “3 km rule” during stage races. Under this rule, riders who have fallen in the last three kilometers are allocated the time of the group they were riding with before falling.
“This could avoid circumstances such as those that occurred during yesterday’s stage,” the union said. “The runners and the CPA are determined to pursue changes for the safety and physical integrity of athletes. These changes are needed more than ever. “
Thierry Gouvenou, in charge of the Tour route, explained to L’Equipe newspaper the growing challenges he is facing in finding finish sites without dangerous road materials.
“There are no longer medium-sized towns without a small island, roundabout or narrowing,” he said. “Ten years ago, there were 1,100 dangerous points on the Tour de France. This year, there are 2,300. If the level of requirement becomes too high, there will be no more arrivals. This is where we are at.
The riders stop to ask for a dialogue on safety to be established with all the parties concerned, the UCI, the organizers, the teams and the riders.#TDF2021
Gilbert did not put all the blame on the route on the UCI, however, saying the teams who spotted it before the race should have informed the organizers of its dangers.
One of Gilbert’s teammates in the Lotto-Soudal squad, ace sprinter Caleb Ewan, fell near the finish line while competing in the sprint and was forced to retire with a broken collarbone.
Two of the top yellow jersey contenders – last year’s runner-up Primoz Roglic and 2018 champion Geraint Thomas – were involved in crashes on Monday, losing ground to their main rivals. But they fell on straight roads without major difficulty and did not blame the organizers.
Saturday’s opening stage was marred by two major pilots, one caused by a spectator holding a cardboard sign on the way to the peloton.
Calling for changes in sport without proposing solutions, the veteran sporting director of Groupama-FDJ Marc Madiot called on all stakeholders to take their responsibilities “because if we don’t do it, we will have deaths and I don’t want to phone the family of the runner who will be hospitalized forever. It is not worthy of our sport. “
The last rider to die on the Tour was Fabio Casartelli, an Italian from the team of Lance Armstrong, then Motorola, who crashed in the descent of the Col du Portet d’Aspet in 1995. Many serious accidents continued to occur. spoil the race since.