Marcel Kittel portraits
  • Il_falcone

    Well said, Marcel! I had hoped that it did not need a deadly accident to provoke the necessary measures. It was obvious at least since last year that there was a development for the worse. So now, I hope even more that this tragedy has some real and effective consequences. We certainly don’t need so many motorcycles during those races. 10 photographers accompanying the race are already more than enough. This is a sporting competition and not a competition for photographers and journalists. And we as spectators certainly don’t need guys doing commentaries from the back seat of a motorcycle. But those motorcycles drivers who have to be there must learn how to drive properly and regularly prove their ability. It would be perfect if those could be ex-racers or at least could be thoroughly teached by ex-racers in order to really understand what’s going on.

  • sket

    Great to have contributions on such an important issue from within the peloton!

  • Patrick

    interesting point about “more signs/flashing lights that indicate sharp corners or dangerous points” i read somewhere earlier today that many (half?) of the motorbikes in the convoy are signalling bikes that go ahead to warn of dangerous points (flag waving and whistle blowing) and then speed past after the peloton has passed the point to get to the next one. seems quite old school why not have a squad ahead of the race setting up warning equipment – flashing lights and bells – and another behind the race collecting it again – no motorbikes passing the peloton. sure you’d need lots of signs but they shouldn’t be too expensive and will be reused – could even be a pool of them shared amongst race organisers and other events (including gran fondos etc).

    may or may not be practical but i think it is an example of the many things in cycling that are just done how they have always been done rather than thinking about the best way

    • Dave

      It wouldn’t even need to be added, just the existing signage requirements (distance signs for the finish, sprints, climbs etc) expanded in scope. All professional-level races will have a contractor also setting up sponsors’ signs along the way.

      Flashing lights and bells should be used only for level crossings, in my opinion.

      Marshals with flags could also be dropped off and picked up in the same way, by one bus dropping them off in the morning and another coming as the last vehicle before the green light car.

      Cycling does need to do better than just repeating the same actions and expecting different results. Formula 1 went over 20 years between driver deaths from 1994-2005, as a result of the first safety revolution led by Jackie Stewart in the 1970s, and the second safety revolution in 1994-97 after the deaths of Roland Ratzenburger and Ayrton Senna. Even more importantly, Motorsport now has safety as a permanent part of the culture and the leaders are agile enough to keep on making incremental improvements all the time – contrast that to the UCI which has been exposed as flat footed and incapable

    • touristeroutier

      You are not going to like this answer, but this is coming from someone who leads signage crews at UCI sanctioned races in the US. There is merit to what you and Marcel Kittel are saying. But-

      Cost is an issue. Some of the races barely get by as-is (how many races fold each year?). Custom coroplast signs don’t cost that much, but there is labor, storage, transportation, and theft. It also takes time to set up course; the racers move more than 2x the speed of the signage crews, unless it is a course with few turns. This means setting up the day before (leading to more theft) or working in the dark, which means more mistakes, and hard to recruit staff.

      Electric signs from traffic control companies are expensive to rent, and there isn’t always room on the course course to place them. There aren’t that many promoters that cooperate well.

      When you rely on volunteers you get what you pay for. Many don’t show up, particularly if the weather is bad, and many are busy watching the race instead of doing their jobs. Besides flagging obstacles, these moto marshals provide protection for the groups from spectators, and close intersections, driveways etc that are not controlled by the police or barricades.

  • Ian Guy

    Once upon a time I read an interview with David Coulthard’s girlfriend; when she was asked “aren’t you scared of David being hurt” she replied, “why, at the race they have fully trained medics and a mobile ICU – David is safer on the track than on the public road”.

    I totally agree that preventing crashes should be a priority, but surely there is a case for better medical support, especially at World Tour events.

    • Dave

      The medical support on hand at the Tour Down Under doesn’t appear to be lacking, there is a race doctor and a number of ambulances in the convoy (in the case of the Peoples Choice Classic crit at the start of the week, parked on exactly the same corners as when DC raced F1 in Adelaide!) and also helicopter options, with it being rare for any part of the course to be more than 35km from an emergency room. Considering the differences in the types of injuries involved in Motorsport and cycling, I think it is roughly in proportion.

      Is it better than what would be on offer at some other cycling races? Probably, given the TDU was set up by the same people who ran the best organised F1 race on the calendar and then won the V8 Supercars race organisation award so many times they put the Clipsal 500 permanently in the hall of fame just to give other events a shot at the yearly award.

      It’s pretty rare for the medical support to be overwhelmed during a cycling race, and when it did happen following a massive pileup on the third stage of the Tour de France last year the race was stopped until the medical team was able to get on top of things. That exposed other organisational issues with cycling – there’s no clear methods of communication for stopping/neutralising a race like the red/yellow flags used in motorsport so the race director had to resort to a whole lot of pointing and shouting.

      Some races like the Tour de France do have more extensive mobile facilities following the tour village from place to place.

  • Larry @CycleItalia

    I’m glad he spoke out but this “And before that, and only after the death of Andrei Kivilev, the UCI made helmets compulsory in 2003.” didn’t do his argument much good. Perhaps he was still pedaling his Big Wheel toy as the riders protested time after time against rules requiring helmets? Or against anti-doping efforts? The riders need to take the lead here, setting up some real demands that can be measured and refusing to race until they are. The UCI says it’s the organizers problem, the organizers will blame the UCI and the riders will say it’s not their responsibility. Sadly, what will happen is pretty much nothing, as nobody will take the initiative and responsibility to make real changes.

  • H.E. Pennypacker

    I think this is well said overall and a needed voice in the conversation. (Though I confess my respectful disagreement that Matt Brammeier’s Tour of Utah crash was due to an unsafe race route. It was no different than any other alpine style descent. He simply took things much, MUCH too fast and lost control on a tight bend. Watch the footage. Oddly enough, the car he hit may well have saved his life. Careening into that steep, forested mountainside could have been much, much worse.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyRqN7ukxrw

    • Ronin

      I was looking down the comments to see if anyone would point this out about Utah. That had nothing to do with an unsafe course. Brammeier just botched that up. Some have tried to claim it was unsafe due to the way the cars were driving. I don’t see it, and if you’re chasing back on through the team cars down a steep mountain, like Brammeier was, surely there is some burden on the rider to check his speed so that he can safely ride together with the cars.

    • George Darroch

      Watch what happens after though. Motos stop in the middle of the course and people crash into them.

      • H.E. Pennypacker

        That’s a fair point, but it’s not what Marcel is talking about.

    • Il_falcone

      Thanks for the video. Did Brammeier or anyone else really say that the driver of the white Porsche caused the accident here?

      • H.E. Pennypacker

        Actually, Kittel’s open letter is the first I’ve heard of the unsafe rate route accusation. Maybe it was out there, but I hadn’t come across it. If that’s the opinion in the peloton, I’d be shocked and more than a little confused. That descent (I’m very familiar with it) is nothing special. And it’s no more dangerous than any other alpine style descent–and safer than many since the road surface is in such great shape.

  • Cristiano Silva Conrado Moreir

    I am a very experienced motorbike rider, road bike rider and a emergency ICU medic and i think there is much already said but i think it is lacking the most important points.

    1 – The speed the cars and motorbikes are using to overtake the pelotoon and bike groups sometimes is very high. The relative speed diference between cars and bikes is too big and many times i see the the bike riders are not seeing that cars and motorbikes coming from behind.
    I recommend that any overtake should be avoided by default and performed only when strictly required, only by official race secure staff and preeeded by all necessary procedure to alert the cyclists the car/motorbike is coming.
    The speed used to overtake the cyclists should be barely superior than that group, on that momeent. THAT IS INDISPENSABLE!
    Should be previous knowledge of the points of the route where is safe or not to overtake cyclists.

    2 – To much motorbikes, cars, are constantly staying beside and too close the cyclists groups for photos, TV broadcast or assistance.
    TV broadcast motorbikes should stay in front or behind the group, with safe distance.
    Motorbikes o cars should not advance beside the cyclists for photos or assistance, the assistance cars should stay behind the group and behind the race director’s cars, If there is any mechanical or feed/hydratation needed, the cyclist should slow the speed or wait beside the road until the assistance arrives.
    Should be prohibited team cars to advance besides the cyclists to talk, feed or any moving assistance.
    When there is a cyclist receiving biddons beside a team car, another cars should wait before overtaking that.
    I think they should use he radios freely for comms and hydratation/feeding should be restrict to more numerous road zones, in order to make the in cars feeding not necessary.
    It is possible to create a simple plastic device what make impossible the energy transfer between the car/motorbike assistance and cyclist, in order to discourage the constant visits to the convoy. (ex: a short wire, a single direction opening device where the cyclist needs to push from behind to displace the biddon).

    3 – Sometimes looks like i see team cars competing for a place more near from the cyclists.
    The team cars places should be fixed by some criteria and in case of some changing for any reason during the race, the return to the stabilished places should be pacefull, safe and signalized.

    4 – In case of escape groups, the overtaking of the main group by team cars should be performed only in safe places.
    I think it is safer to find detours in case of scapes and reach it without the need of dangerous overtaking of the pelotoon.
    In races placed in very large roads it is a minor problem but a major one in others.
    Should be created a convention to limit the cyclists on only one side of two way roads letting the staff with some space.
    Should be created a convention where the overtakes should be performed only by right or left, always with proper signalization, lights and noise.

    5 – For the danger road zones a llight device with different colours is easy to build and place in a staff motorbike to ride in front of the pelotoons, signalizig a scale of dangers, (ex: Fast Red Strobe = Very Tight Turn).

    The options are numerous, i think that ones above are simple, cheap and effective.
    I wish somebody who can make it work read this.

    Cristiano SIlva Conrado Moreira
    Brasil

    • Hurtin’ Albertan

      Just typed a point by point response to this but it was lost before I posted it. Long and short of my response was that some of your points are already standard in a race. Positioning of cars in the caravan, rules for passing, where motos can/can’t be, etc.

      CT actually has a good post on some of these points that took me forever to find: https://cyclingtips.com/2011/07/le-tour-diary-stage-10-the-race-convoy/

    • wont be long til they get rid of the motor bikes and employ drone cameras that can follow the peleton :)

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