Improving safety a big ask in largely amateur sport

Tue Mar 29, 2016 5:47am EDT
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By Julien Pretot

PARIS (Reuters) - Cycling's authorities are under pressure to improve safety after Belgian rider Antoine Demoitie died following an accident involving a motorbike on Sunday but it will be a tough task in a sport which is still largely amateur.

While the International Cycling Union (UCI) expressed its sadness over Demoitie's death on Monday without discussing the circumstances of the accident, the riders' association (CPA) has demanded a probe and improved safety measures.

Demoitie, 25, died after being run over by a race motorbike during the Gent-Wevelgem classic - only the latest in a string of incidents involving race vehicles over the last year.

Slovakia's Peter Sagan and Portuguese Sergio Paulinho were sent crashing to the ground by motorbikes during last year's Vuelta, while Belgian Greg van Avermaet, who was soloing towards victory, was dismounted by a motorbike at the Clasica San Sebastian.

At the Tour de France, a motorbike collided with Jakob Fuglsang during a mountain stage while Frenchman Sebastien Chavanel and New Zealand's Jesse Sergent were knocked down by neutral service cars.

Motorbikes have multiple functions during a race: some transport reporters and photographers, others race stewards and the regulators who decide who can overtake and when.

"Must tragic circumstances be the marker for change?" Australian rider Michael Rogers asked recently.

After one his riders was knocked by a motorbike during the La Drome Classic race last month, BMC manager Jim Ochowicz wrote to the UCI demanding action.   Continued...