• Luke Bartlett

    I can’t believe they don’t even use any radio codes/names in races. I was an engineer at a mine site and we had the most drilled down communications, similar level of risk and needs in locate people and communicating danger and go/nogo situations. Something as simple as giving a letter to each ‘group’ and assigning numbers within to identify a single person, like their numbers on photo/media should be the only means of identification in race situations. There also should be a clear hierarchy of communication importance, to prevent 20 people talking at once.

  • Belinda Hoare

    I think one of the most important points for listeners to take from this is that the world of motos that circulate as part of the peloton can only, and do only operate in a safe manner. Cycling is an inherently dangerous sport, and the measures in place that govern how the peloton snakes its way along public roads, through various countries and with innumerable obstacles in its path, is already fundamentally grounded in the highest principles of safety. Ramon highlights how things could be improved, but it’s important to respect that it is already safe. Fortunately, tragic accidents are rare. Motos are highly experienced – for a start they have their own lives to protect, as well as their passengers. They’re also there to protect the riders. How often do people stop to think about, let alone thank, the various people who move in the peloton for getting riders over the finish line safely at the end of each race? And for that matter, how many millions of people each year encroach onto a road space – the riders’ playing field – to get that apparently necessary iPhoto? Do people understand that the further they encroach onto the road, the more narrow the space riders and pilots have to negotiate? No one is to blame for this terribly tragic accident, and everyone is responsible. Everyone has their part to play in continuing to uphold safety at the highest level – as it has always been. Improvements can be made, but we must respect the incredibly hard work that everyone on the peloton already does every racing day to ensure it is safe, and even possible to hold.

    • Scott Miner

      “Only operate in a safe manner” and “already fundamentally grounded in the highest principles of safety”. Those two statements are absolute rubbish. I could post video after video of incidents during races where motos and VIP cars take out riders, and pass and follow unnecessarily close. The riders and teams themselves have complained about the lack of concern for their safety with these ever increasing incidents.These “highest principles of safety” you mention do not exist, and the adherence to existing guidelines are not being enforced with any regularity, hardly ever when riders complain, and not always when they get hit. The teams and riders understand the importance of their role in races, but no, you are spreading lies when you make statements like those at the start of this comment.

      • Dave

        The problem is that there is a profound lack of connection between the waffle emanating from Aigle that Belinda is repeating and the real experiences of what happens on the ground in bike races.

        The UCI on Brian Cookson’s watch would have to be close to the most, if not the most, dysfunctional governing body of any sport. That Cookson won the presidency on the back of a campaign about fixing up the sport only adds insult to injury.

        It’s time for the riders to get serious and organise themselves so they can fuck back harder when the UCI and race organisers fuck them. Five options, in increasing order of priority, would be:
        – A rider union representative inspecting the course of a pro race on the morning.
        – Protest rides.
        – Refusing media and podium appearances at races organised by companies with a poor safety record.
        – Mass abandonment of the world championship road race if the UCI try to impose sanctions for any previous protests or the safety situation continues unabated. It would be highly embarrassing for the sport and have financial impacts on the UCI (the organiser of the following year’s world championships might walk on the contract) but it would fall under the category of ‘you can’t make a cake without breaking eggs.’
        – Running a candidate against Cookson when he comes up for re-election next year, or even attempting to force an emergency spill. While threatening Cookson’s cushy job is important in this case, it probably needs to be done on principle every time the top job comes up just to get the riders a platform to speak at the UCI Congress even if the candidate immediately withdraws from the election and endorses another candidate.

        • Belinda Hoare

          You’re a classic example of playing the man, and not playing the ball. I honestly don’t understand people like you who seem to relish when things go wrong in cycling, because it gives you an opportunity to stand even higher on a soapbox and crucify anyone who is involved in running a highly complex sport. Admit it – there’s absolutely nothing Cookson or the UCI could do that would satisfy you. Did you actually listen to the podcast? Did you? Did you actually listen to what someone who actually works in the peloton for years has said? Why do you so automatically dismiss everything they’ve said?

          • Dave

            The ability to force change by threatening the job of the guy in the top chair is the ONLY advantage of having a democratic process.

            You say it is impossible to improve things, I call bullshit. Squeeze the right people and they’ll come up with a way – even Pat McQuaid made moves towards doing the right thing when the pressure was on in the last couple of years before his ouster.

            The riders have more power than they think, the tough part is that herding cats will be easier than getting cyclists organised.

            • Belinda Hoare

              Try reading again what I said, instead of imparting your pre-determined view on what you read. Point out to me where I’ve said it is “impossible to improve things”, take your toxic cynical blinkers off, and then maybe you can begin to have a rational discussion about it. And actually, perhaps direct your ire at the interviewee of the podcast – if you think what I’ve said is “bullshit”, then you think what he’s said is as well.

      • Belinda Hoare

        So post the videos. Prove proof for your allegations. Back up your claims that no-one involved in running cycling, or getting the peloton from A to B has safety in mind. It’s not lies that I’m spreading at all. I’m merely repeating what Kristof Ramon has said – a highly experienced member of the peloton who has worked within it safely, for years. He himself said it – everybody in that peloton does what they do with safety in mind. I understand you don’t want to hear that, because it doesn’t fit the narrative you want to perpetuate, but listen to the podcast again with an open mind, and actually respect what is being said.

        • Scott Miner

          Right, post the videos. Because you’ve never watched a race live, and you’re too lazy to youtube or wouldn’t know where to look because you don’t know anything about cycling. I watch races live all year long, and it’s rare when I watch a race and don’t see a close call somewhere in the coverage that makes me yell expletives. You’re way out of your depth (you even admit to being a parrot for Ramon) and speaking from no experience. You just take the word of one moto guy and say I should do the same thing.

          Well here’s just a few to get you on “my narrative”.

  • prog

    That was painful to listen to at times. The calculated risk and the acceptance of it and the direct result is quite odd. They get bogged down in a reasoning that strictly deals with moto pilot professionalism and experience. Everyday people that has driven vehicles their whole life does not get into accidents. An accident is not only a result of a lack of judgement, experience and professionalism. Its a matter of circumstance and environment. With those being a variable we can actually change, sticking to the moto drivers themselves and whatever certification they have is naive and incredibly cynical seeing the price that is paid at the end of the day.

    No matter the driver, no moto should be that close or going that fast on a course where the sport of it is how hard it is to navigate.
    No matter the credentials, swarming the peloton with motos for media output will never be worth a riders life, which we are in fact talking about here. Its the direct result of the motorobike.

    In any other aspect of daily life, failing to see and adapt the relation between the amount of motorbikes, the quality of the road and the nature of the subject matter and acting on it by reducing the amount and indeed forbidding them to share certain roads with the racers would be bizarre. Yet cycling presses on like it always has on a template that was set in the 60’s.

    • Shane Stokes

      Important point is that there were 62 motorbikes at Gent-Wevelgem. Only 12 of those were photo bikes, with another five TV bikes. The rest of them were essentially there to help the smooth running of the event, be they police, marshals, regulators or UCI commissaires. The bike that hit Demoitié was driving a UCI commissaire. Many of those bikes are crucial for the running of the race. As Kristof Ramon said, there is certainly work to be done to improve safety including, perhaps, diverting the race marshals away from the course once they have finished guarding a section and then bringing them back on via an alternative route. That’s done in Holland, not in Belgium. He also has several other suggestions to improve safety, as discussed in the interview. His main point is this: people calling for photographer bikes to be removed (when, to my knowledge, none have been involved in any issues with riders) is not going to address the issue. There is a lot of thinking to be done on this and he has given some pointers as to how he believes the situation can be improved. The UCI moto drivers’ licence is another area where he has good suggestions.

      • roddders

        Do you think the riders using race radios could cause at issue with them being aware of overtaking vehicles? Possibly dulling one sense can’t be a great idea. And as for riders taking tramadol close to the finale, perhaps that will decrease now!

        • Shane Stokes

          In the audio, Kristof wonders if there may be an issue with riders hearing motorbikes (even when beeping) due to race radios and those in the team car shouting instructions. If so, that’s a big issue

          • roddders

            It sure is. Loss of hearing in one ear can affect balance can it not? There aren’t simple solutions to these problems but some common sense should be applied as well as the demands for other changes.

  • Berne Shaw

    Forget tradition when death is an outcome. Adopt modern methods! Remove all team cars. Replace with many fewer all in one neutral support medical repairs cars. No more sticky bottles no more drafting either. Give all racers special radios with a safety channel and communication with teams only in emergency. All racers will then be warned of road dangers cashes etc without numerous motorcycles. Markedly reduce motorcycles by combining video and photography one hybrid camera that can pull photos from video. Do away with need for rider along with driver by using electronic stabilized gimbal with remote control and telephoto lenses.
    Motorcycles will be able to stay far away and be far less in number. All racers can have miniature video and photo ability. This equalizes weight concerns.

    The real problem is keeping tradition with matters of life and death which are not to be confused with acceptable risks. Go modern. There are many solution. Brian is a good man but it is a false analysis to seek simple vs complex solutions. There are ways to do this available. But those with the courage to look will be the only ones who see them.

    • Dave

      A transmitter with three buttons (for mechanical service, food/drink service and crash/emergency) sending a rider’s identification and their location (from GPS and/or nearby locater beacons) to the team and race organisation would be child’s play for the private sector. Outside of service requirements, it would also serve to assist with timing and tracking and could have settled the allegation of Arnaud Demare catching a lift during MSR last week.

      A ruggedised system should be no bigger or heavier than a modern smartphone with a case fitted, and easily mounted behind the seat post with a small remote control up front.

      Once this is in place, there would be no need for verbal communications, and the teams would quickly adjust to the new methods of keeping track of their riders. As a bonus, it would give an advantage to the riders with better brains for tactics and make races less of a video game played by the sporting directors – something that Formula 1 is also doing with the new restrictions on what assistance the team can give over the radio.

  • will59

    If you are on the road and are unable to stop to avoid a collision with another vehicle, then you are following too closely and are at fault. I watch many, many cycling races and see that there are far too many crashes for a motorcycle driver to not be prepared for them.


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