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by Shane Stokes
June 4, 2016
Photography by Cor Vos
Responding to recent accidents in the peloton, including several crashes in the closing kilometres of races plus the motorbike accidents involving Antoine Demoitié and Stig Broeckx, who remains in a coma, professional riders’ association the CPA has called on the UCI to step up its responsibilities.
In a statement entitled the CPA Security Plan, the body has suggested the UCI is shirking its obligations and instead passing the responsibilities over to the race organisers. It points out that a series of regulations removes any sense of responsibility from the UCI, including the following:
UCI Regulation 1.2.033: “Monitoring by the UCI, national federations and by the commissaires of the conduct of the race shall concern only the sporting requirements and the organiser alone shall be answerable for the quality and safety of the organisation and installations.”
UCI Regulation 1.2.035: “The organiser shall take whatever safety measures caution demands…The organiser shall ensure that the race may take place under the best material conditions for all parties concerned, riders, attendants, officials, commissaires, journalists, security services, medical services, sponsors, the public, etc…”
UCI Regulation 1.2.061: “…the organiser shall ensure that the race course includes no places or situations that could constitute a particular safety risk to anyone (rider, attendants, official, spectators, etc.).”
UCI Regulation 1.2.063: “In no case can the UCI be held responsible for defects in the course or installations of for any accidents that may occur.”
UCI Regulation 2.2.018: “In no case can the UCI be held responsible for any defects in the course or accidents that may occur.”
The document also challenges what it says is the UCI’s current absence of clear regulations for safe course design inside the final three kilometres, suggesting that this could have been a factor in avoidable crashes in stage 1 of 2015 Pais Vasco, stage 2 of Qatar 2016 and the 2016 Le Tour de La Provence.
The CPA says that the UCI only has one rule pertaining to that period of a race, namely:
UCI Regulation 2.2.017: A zone of at least 300 meters before and 100 meters after the finishing line shall be protected by barriers. It shall be accessible exclusively to representatives of the organiser, riders, paramedical assistants, sports directors and accredited personnel.
It instead wants the UCI to come up with new regulations “mandating best practices for safe course design inside the final 3 km.”
In its document, the CPA lays out a blueprint for what it feels safer cycling should look like.
Amongst the measures it is calling for is a Mandatory Risk Assessment it wants to be made to the president of the UCI Commissaires’ Panel, an AIGCP [teams’ organisation] representative and a CPA representative.
Under that provision, it says the final three kilometres should be scrutinised the day before a race, the morning of the race and at least 30 minutes before the first riders arrive. It calls on roads to be swept if necessary and for bridge extension joints and tram lines to be temporarily filled with plaster or covered by a rubber strip in order to prevent mishaps,
The CPA also wants the organiser to request public authorities to remove or make safe obstacles inside the final three kilometres, including speed bumps and plastic bollards screwed to the ground.
It wants clear protections to be made in relation to obstacles, including the use of straw bales and the placing of two signs (at 200 metres and 100 metres) before obstacles, as well as positioning two marshals ahead of all obstacles taller than five centimetres.
There are also a set of demands for the finish, including barriers starting at least 500 metres before the line and 100 metres afterwards, and utilising hidden bases inside the final 400 metres so that riders don’t snag their wheels or pedals on the feet of those barriers.
It wants a Risk Assessment document to be drawn up for the final three kilometres and, ideally, for the entire race route.
The CPA also wants regulations to govern the actions of lead vehicles, photographer motorbikes and even the event announcer, which it feels should help spread a safety message.
The subject of collisions between race vehicles and riders has been a hot topic for well over a year, but has assumed an additional significance after the tragic loss of Antoine Demoitié in this year’s Gent-Wevelgem.
The CPA justifiably identifies this as an area of high priority and has a series or demands.
Amongst its calls is the use of more experienced drivers, levels of certification based on race day experience and education seminars and, importantly, a system of demotion for those involved in accidents or near misses.
In relation to the latter the CPA wants the UCI to introduce a driver ID and also a near ‘miss reporting’ culture.
Interestingly, the body doesn’t back the calls by some others to reduce the number of motos.
“A majority of professional riders do not believe a reduction of motorbikes will result in fewer crashes,” it states. “As stated above, most motorbikes perform safety functions. Reducing their number will likely make the courses unsafe in other ways (un-manned road junctions, unmarshalled hazards,etc.).
“Therefore, pro riders advocate for reforms focused on increasing the use of well-trained and experienced drivers, and improving the manoeuvres when motorbikes are in close proximity to riders.”
What it does want though, is for those bikes to use off-course roads to pass the peloton when possible. When this can’t be done, it says a clear safety measure can and should be imposed.
“Motorcycles and vehicles shall pass the peloton while traveling at a speed no greater than 10km/hr faster than the traveling speed of the peloton when within five meters of a rider.”
The CPA communicated the statement Friday but it was actually dated May 18, and sent then to the UCI Pro Cycling Council and the UCI Road Commission.
The CPA said the plan was draw from inputs from pro riders and national associations, and that is was due to be discussed Friday with the UCI and the president of the Road Commission.
It added that a meeting between the CPA and the AIGCP [teams’ association) will be held soon.
The UCI is yet to comment on the CPA Security Plan.