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by Shane Stokes
September 2, 2015
Photography by Cor Vos
Responding to the collision between a race motorbike and Peter Sagan on the eighth stage of the Vuelta a España, the Slovakian’s Tinkoff-Saxo squad has written to Vuelta organisers Unipublic and also to the UCI demanding a number of steps are taken as a result of the accident.
These include an apology for what happened, a charitable donation equivalent to what Sagan would have earned for the green jersey competition victory or a similar gesture, a change in UCI rules to ensure that safety is increased in this area and also a revocation of one of the two fines the UCI hit Sagan with that evening.
He was given a 200 Swiss Francs penalty “for threats and insults,” plus a 100 Swiss Francs for “behaviour which damages the image of cycling.”
Those were response to a tirade after the accident during which he punched the race doctor’s car and kicked both a race motorbike and his own bike.
The team demands that the 100 Swiss franc fine is dropped, but accepts the other penalty.
The driver who was involved in the collision was piloting a Shimano neutral service motorbike but was, according to Shimano, a driver assigned to the vehicle by the race organisation.
Sagan was trying to take his second stage win in the event but hit the deck inside the final kilometres. He described the incident several days ago.
“I didn’t even hear the motorbike coming. I find it unacceptable that a motorbike tries to weave its way into the group at such high speed,” he stated then. “They accelerate and try to sneak in when they see an empty space. However, they don’t take into consideration that a rider might fall in front of them or change direction. They go extremely fast and the difference of speed compared to the riders is enormous.”
Sagan withdrew from the race as a result of the crash, losing out on the chance of taking the points jersey and also additional stage victories.
In today’s letter, the team laid out its arguments against what happened.
“I believe the facts are clear and beyond discussion: the driver of the motorcycle carelessly and improperly tried to overtake the reduced peloton at very high speed about eight km from the finish line apparently in an attempt to reach the leading three riders a few seconds in front,” it said.
“It is clear that the driver should not have performed the overtaking of the peloton and – at a minimum –he failed to use adequate care in his attempt.
“The crash at high speed could have had much more severe consequences for the rider who was defenceless against such an action by the motorcycle’s driver.”
The team said that Sagan and the team suffered “direct and indirect damages” due to the accident, and it that it considered it “only reasonable to seek proper indemnification from the responsible party/ies.”
While reserving the right to initiate proceedings at a later date, the team said its immediate priority is that both race organisers and other stakeholders learn from what happened and to make changes.
In line with this, the team has issued five demands:
1. Unipublic as La Vuelta’s race organiser issue a public apology for the incident, something not done to date;
2. Whilst not seeing this as in any way as compensating for our loss, we propose that Unipublic offer a donation to a charity organization – to be named by Tinkoff Sport A/S in agreement with Peter Sagan – equal to the value of the prize for the Green Jersey victory, or suggest an alternative which acknowledges that as race organiser it has accountability for the safety of its event;
3. Unipublic take appropriate and concrete measures to prevent similar incidents in the remaining stages of the race and its future events;
4. Tinkoff Sport A/S requests that the Union Cycliste Internationale (Uci) revoke the fine to our rider for “behavior that damages the image of cycling”. The team and Peter Sagan accept the other fine for the reaction Peter Sagan had after the crash but it is simply inappropriate to fine him for damaging the image of cycling under these circumstances;
5. We also request that the Uci initiate – in consultation with our and other teams’ representatives and other relevant stakeholders – a review of the rules regulating the admission to vehicles’ drivers inside the race and the way vehicles are obliged to act while driving in the convoy and peloton, with the intent of implementing appropriate rules changes no later than the start of the 2016 race season.
The team concluded by saying that it hoped that all of the stakeholders will learn from the situation and that other such incidents can be avoided in the future as a result.
It set a deadline to receive a response from Unipublic and the UCI by the final day of the Vuelta, which is Sunday September 13.