Cycling: Course not to blame for crashes, says Cookson

Mon Aug 8, 2016 6:41pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Martyn Herman

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Rider misjudgments not Rio's scenic Olympic road race course were responsible for a series of bone-crunching crashes over the weekend, according to UCI chief Brian Cookson.

Dutchwoman Annemiek van Vleuten remained in hospital on Monday with three fractured vertebrae and concussion after a horrific-looking accident on the Vista Chinesa descent close to the finish at the Copacabana beach.

On Saturday, Vincenzo Nibali, who like van Vleuten was leading the race on the final, high-speed descent, broke both collarbones after he and Sergio Henao crashed heavily on the same stretch of road. Henao fractured his pelvis.

Britain's former Olympic track champion Chris Boardman criticized the course, specifically the Chinesa descent on which Australian Richie Porte broke his right shoulder in another crash on Saturday, describing it as "dangerous".

Only 63 of the 144 men who started the men's 237.5km road race finished but Cookson, speaking to Reuters at the velodrome after visiting van Vleuten in hospital, said riders had to take responsibility.

"We will have a look at things and do a review, but a large number of riders managed to go down those hills without crashing so maybe some people took too many risks," he said.

"Every rider has to make judgments and sometimes they get it wrong. We are concerned for safety but ultimately riders have a responsibility to make judgments under the circumstances because it takes place in a real environment."

He expressed sympathy for van Vleuten, however, and was happy to report that the Dutch rider would make a 100 percent recover despite being battered and bruised.   Continued...

UCI president Brian Cookson stands near the track during a practice session.  REUTERS/Eric Gaillard