It’s been months since the tragic death of the Wanty-Groupe Gobert rider Antoine Demoitié while competing in Ghent-Wevelgem, he was 25 years old.
You don’t have to watch many races until you see an incident with a rider and a team car, or the neutral service car, or those wasp like motor bikes performing their role as outriders to implement rolling road blocks or camera men.
When you’re moving as quickly as an elite level peloton at full chaff it can be a very dangerous place, one rider not paying attention can bring down swathes of the field but that’s part and parcel of racing, I’m always amazed at watching the pros crash and how focused they are at checking the bike and getting back into position. A rider on rider crash generally isn’t a big thing, having riders receive medical treatment while hanging on to a medical car moving at 30kph isn’t unusual and just goes to show how much these sports men and women are leaving on the tarmac, it really can be bloody sweat and tears.
The UCI have decided to issue a strongly worded statement saying that the rider safety must be a priority and that spotters will be used to make sure the motos comply andI really don’t understand why there’s need for more people when you could deploy a splash of tech, a bit of thought and massive punishments to those that don’t comply.
This is a sport and the last thing you need to think about is will you be alive at the end of the day let alone finish the stage. The commissaires have issued their edict “that everyone in charge of a vehicle must immediately comply with all directions from race commissaires”.
Shouldn’t they be doing that already?
Don’t get me wrong, I love the footage of the pros suffering for my entertainment, gladiators on bikes enduring physical suffering, gasping for air desperately trying to hold the wheel of the rider in front as they kick into a hairpin fighting every physical instinct to make the physical stress stop , I find it quite inspirational to watch.
I don’t understand how adding more people to the crowd could ever solve the issue, there have been historic moments where supporters have got in the way and it’s never the man in the devil costume on The Tour but the guy with the bag strap standing on hairpin when Armstrong kicked for it, or that idiot who couldn’t his bloody dog.Surely it would be better to implement a GPS protocol with an exclusion zone. The benefits of this are worth the extra grams to a bike.
Firstly all of the team directors will know where all of the riders are on the road at the same allowing fluid, dynamic race information to the sports director to help formulate the race plan during the race which can only be a good thing.
Secondly as the motos would be tagged the commissaires would be aware of how close the motos are to the riders and regardless if there’s an accident or not, if a moto sits inside the exclusion zone action can be taken post race as punishment for not following the rules in the same way a rider would be punished for say hanging on to a team car to get back on the peloton.
Third, as viewers we would have new graphic to watch in the same way as Formula One we would have access to the map showing where all our favourite riders are, it would give the commentators more information and it would solve the intermittent drop out of split times that sometimes happens .
Fourth, the commissaires would have the live feed and be able to issue real time warnings to any vehicle impinging the rules with the ability to pull a bike that offends multiple times in either one race or multiple warnings over several races or stages
Last, there’s the ability to track movement data should a crash happen and be able to ask intelligent and informed questions as to the actions of the moto rider involved after a post race investigation.
Ultimately though it’s up to the motos to control themselves, to not get swept up in the moment, to understand that they’re there to film the race not take part in it which I understand can be difficult in the heat of the moment. It’s down to the directors issuing the instruction to the motos to make reasonable and responsible requests of the motos.