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by Mark Zalewski
March 3, 2017
In today’s CyclingTips Daily News Digest: What is the Hammer Series? Digging deeper into the races that could change cycling; Preview: Women’s WorldTour kicks off on the gravel roads of the Strade Bianche this weekend; Fourth stage of the La Tropicale Amissa Bongo cancelled; British Cycling to rethink relationship with Team Sky; Wiggins refuses to talk to media over UKAD investigation; Belgian race organisers focus on preventing sidewalk riding; Stybar ready for Strade Bianche; Woet Poels will not start Paris-Nice due to knee problem; Final teams announced for Amstel Gold Race; Sporza fails to secure rights for Italian races; Colorado Classic to add entertainment component for financial stability; Video: Final kilometres of Le Samyn; The Peak District Journey.
After the controversy last weekend that saw some riders utilise the smoother side walks and bike paths to avoid riding on the cobbles, despite a clear directive by race officials that doing so would result in disqualification, organisers at the mid-week race Le Samyn took additional steps, placing barriers in the way to deter the racers.
Even though teams were notified at Omloop het Nieuwsblad that riding the asphalt on these sections would result in disqualification, the first groups through still used the smoother sides. Later groups were forced to ride the cobbles when a UCI moto-commissaire parked on the side, blocking access, adding to the frustration of team directors who ten cried foul for the disparity of enforcement
“Something was said about it,” Omloop race winner Greg Van Avermaet said at the post-race press conference.
“They tried the same thing four, five years ago in Kuurne at the Varentstraat. The lead group rode on the path and the peloton rode on the cobbles. In Flanders it’s just impossible to apply the rules. They have to do it like in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, then nobody is able to ride on it. This way … Everybody is on their limit. Nobody would reach the finish in Ghent. You would have to take out everybody from the race.”
There are specific UCI rules barring the use of of bike paths and sidewalks and race organisers have pledged to make it a focus of enforcement this year.