Sunday, July 15, 2012


Are they really necessary for the public entertainment ?  Amazed to see that the Peloton’s arrival in Sete , 25 km before the Etappe finish  did not produce more mayhem . This little town on the South coast of France is a nightmare of narrow roads even on a mid week afternoon , let alone when 150+ Racers try to negotiate the narrow , sharp and twisty turns into a short uphill segment of the day’s etappe . Remember that the racers were already close to 200km along the day’s route , Passed through this nightmare location both by bike and car so seeing yesterday’s TV coverage brought back bad memories .

Of course the Tour organisation wanted to produce “ Entertainment “ for the viewers ? Really , did they want a casualty list to add to the carnage generated in earlier Etappes ?  Riding alone on these roads , I only have to cope with impatient drivers , who are not as thoughtless as those in major cities or larger towns . But when you are in the middle of a bunch and the front throws on a sudden stop , where do you go ? Over balancing and at the same time being hit from behind by other racers , you fall against your neighbour , thus the domino effect .  So there are team cars to rush replacement wheels to the riders , that is IF they are able to continue in the race .

Yesterday’s finish was thought to be a sprint , but after Sete the TV was showing a “ Cavandish Group “ , initially 1 min down but in the last 25km it could make no effort to catch the front runners and finished 2 ½ mins behind . So much for the “ King of the Sprint “ for this etappe ! Great Entertainment suddenly becomes diminished by the “ Star Turn “ being side lined . OK we still saw some great sprinting and Greipel narrowly won the Photo finish !

Many parts of yesterday’s route took the racers down narrow lanes through the countryside thus freeing up the main routes for the French Public . Part of the reason that Teams have following Estate wagons is to provide replacement bikes and refreshments but there were difficulties in safely passing racers even for those on the motorbike . During any day’s racing there will be the occasional touch of a wheel that brings down a few Racers but deliberately creating nightmare scenarios does not entertain me or most other cycling fans !

When people read that the racers “ Protested “ before the start of yesterday’s  etappe , should they be at all surprised ?  Any of you recall the Milano Sunday in the Giro d’Italia , some years ago ? The racers were expected to race around the streets of Milano , paralleling tram tracks ! Yes , the tram tracks were left uncovered so that when you move over a few centimetres , your wheel drops into the track . What do you do to make a turn ? Oops over you go , if you were unaware . Of course you could do a bunny hop to get the front wheel free but at 45+kph even the most experienced racer would be in difficulties ! Of course the result that day was a  “ Go Slow “ and Angelo Z. was furious and called  it “ Cowardly Conduct “ by the racers for spoiling the giro’s plans . I rode that course , alone , behind the racers and my eyes were constantly on the road surface . Some parts I could make good racing speed but at corners and tram crossings I was slow and making angular or sweeping turns to avoid the hazards , something that the racers could not do at speed whilst in a bunch !

Michael Barry is a star Cycle Racer and also an Author , so he knows all about the racing scene . Here is the Link to an article he wrote recently :


So many points that a Cycle enthusiast would not consider , are covered by this article , so it makes for good reading . Would be even better if tour Organisers were to read and learn from the message that he is trying to convey !

Photos do not tell the whole story , only the resulting damage . Johnny Hoogerland lying in the field made a good income for the Photographer but did he think about sharing his monetary gains with the facer ? As of now Hoogerlands is waiting for some compensation from this event , a year on there is no sign of any recompense for the pain and suffering ! Would your insurance company allow you to be treated in this way ? So he got back on his bike to finish the day in the casualty facilities , BUT he could have won that day as the group he was in was well placed to take the victory ! Financially he is OK , as he still got his salary and there was no time off for the injuries .  Both Johnny and my mate “ Jaffa “ got back on their bikes and made their way to the finish  . Wonder what Juan Antonio Flecha received as recompense for his injuries in that incident ?  Racers expect to lose time from injury during the normal course of their career but when you are skittled by a VIP Sponsor vehicle driven by a careless driver I feel sure that the racer is due exemplary recompense .

Not seen this year’s TDF Race Book , so at present am wondering what last year’s page 7 , about Road Safety says about Cyclists , particularly conduct towards the Racers ? Would it be wishful thinking to expect that the ASO regard the safety of Cyclists as an IMPORTANT matter ? So far I am unaware of whether the ASO or L’Equipe have made any effort to promote Cycle Safety Campaigns such as the “ Cities fit for Cycling “ campaign initiated by the “Times “ in February ! With the whole world looking at the “ Le Tour “ , be they Cyclists or Vehicle Drivers , how effective would a Safety on Bike Campaign have been ? Subliminal Ads would have persuaded errant drivers to be more aware of the Cyclist , perhaps even caused them to behave with more consideration ?

To date I wait to see what POSITIVE results come from this year’s edition of the “ Le Tour” but I can tell you that in this season I increasingly notice that vehicles seem to think that driving into a roundabout , whilst a bike is there , is their right ! They get a bit miffed when you slow causing them inconvenience . Many times I have not been able to make my exit , so had to go around the full roundabout again rather than risk collision . In Austria , as no doubt in other places , you are required to signal the exit . That is what the sign shows ! Fact is , you are supposed to be signalling the turns in each direction . Following traffic then know you are exiting or continuing the turn until you arrive at your  exit on the roundabout . Small point for some , but I am always looking at the vehicle wheels regardless of the size of vehicle and the situation so as to avoid a surprise .

Cycle Racing has been lucky in recent times in that we have had no “ High Profile “ deaths , such as Wouter Weylandt  in the 2011 Giro d’Italia  but there have been plenty of incidents where Racers have been placed in “ Drug Induced Comas “ to assist their recovery !  There have been other Race incidents that put the likes of Paul Crake in wheelchairs for the rest of their lives . Paul was at the World Champs in Salzburg one month then racing in the Southland Tour in New Zealand  where he crashed and finished up in Rehab the next ! Long since done with racing but happily married in recent years .

Found this tweet from Cedric Vasseur , who had his share of misfortune in his career :

So many riders involved in crashes or being sick just 2 weeks before the Olympics... Wish all of them a fast recovery..

Of course Cycle Racing is not considered as Dangerous as Formula One but then Aerten Senna being killed and Alex Zennardi being turned into a Paraplegic Case are “ High Profile “ casualties of that Sport ! Alex will race for Italy in the “ Hand Bike Events “ at the London 2012 Paralympic Games in September .

Wishful thinking on my part , to think , there will be no further unnecessary crashes before Paris ? Hopefully those first week nerves , have long since diminished , but as the racers get more tired , will they be taking more risks ?

NB Congrats to Papa Fabian Cancellara !


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