Rob Discart tells Cycling Weekly that crashes are caused by "riders not paying enough attention", but concedes that the barriers used in the race aren't ideal

The organiser of the Eneco Tour has defended the use of a type of crowd barrier that has drawn criticism from riders at the race this week.

The barriers, which have protruding metal feet, where described by Matti Breschel (Tinkoff-Saxo) as “dangerous”, while Team Sky‘s Bernie Eisel called the organiser’s reasoning “just ridiculous”.

On stage two of this year’s Eneco Tour, Topsport-Vlaanderen rider Pieter Vanspeybrouck clipped the metal foot of a crowd barrier and fell, bringing down Breschel in the process. Both abandoned the race: the Belgian overnight, Breschel during the following stage.

However, race organiser Rob Discart told Cycling Weekly that the barriers should not be blamed for the accident.

“I don’t think they are dangerous,” he said. “I think it’s better to have the barriers without the feet on the street side. But I don’t think that the barriers are the reason for riders falling down.

“If you’re honest, and you look at most of the falls of riders, it is riders who didn’t pay enough attention. They hit the wheel of the rider in front of them, or they left their line.”

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Crowd barriers line the route of the Eneco Tour for approximately the final kilometre of each stage; those inside the final 200 metres are provided by the race organisers and do not feature protruding feet. The responsibility for the remaining barriers falls on local authorities, and it is here that problems have arisen.

Some barriers in use alongside the route at the Eneco Tour have legs that protrude onto the course (Abraham)

Some barriers in use alongside the route at the Eneco Tour have legs that protrude onto the course (Abraham)

Riders at this year’s race have voiced their concern at the use of the barriers and the potential safety risks, particularly given the technical and stressful nature of racing in Belgium and the Netherlands.

“It’s stupid to crash. They are dangerous, they are sticking out a little bit, and it’s small roads here in Holland and Belgium. There’s not space for everybody,” Breschel told Cycling Weekly.

Eisel added: “This [what Discart is saying] is just ridiculous, it’s like, ‘I’ll close my eyes, it’s not my fault, it didn’t happen.’

“There should be a rule [about them]. I can’t think that safer barriers are so much more expensive. If it’s in the WorldTour then we could use the same barriers in every race. I would buy them and rent them out to the organisers.

“But it’s a lame excuse. Saying the barriers are fine… they’re not fine, there’s a foot standing out.”

“There are bigger problems in cycling,” said Mick Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo). “But I think slowly, slowly these issues have to be fixed. The whole cycling community has to keep pushing. It’s not a complex issue.”

Barriers with protruding feet were reported to have contributed to a horror crash involving Zdenek Stybar at the Eneco Tour last year. The Etixx-Quickstep rider was leading the race when he crashed in the final 500m of stage four in Ardooie and suffered severe facial injuries.

Discart disputed reports that the barriers were at fault for Stybar’s crash. He added that he and his team had analysed footage from 2014 and said that Stybar crashed due to colliding with a rider in front.

“If I should have the possibility to say to a local organiser, ‘we prefer that you use the barriers [without the feet],’ then of course we would choose that, but unfortunately they are not available on all places,” he added.

  • ummm…

    Just joined today Stevo? I’m very pleased to be on the other end of your first comment. Anyhow, you are absolutely right. All Americans are morons. Are you imagining me in a church with a shotgun and chewing on a piece of straw? And, where are you from so that I can tell you who you are?

    Just take a breath. Sorry I got you all worked up. Try to keep to issue based insults, or possibly a deadpan reasonable answer to see how unreasonable I am in my response. Breathe…breathe….

  • Stevo

    Perhaps people are just sick of the way ignorant Americans tend to spout unpleasant, foul-mouthed know-it-all drivel all over the internet?

  • ummm…

    Paul, you made an alternative username – or created a new one all together – to call me an ignorant Yank. That is very sad. While sometimes the important bits of communation (like sarcasm) is lost when on internet comment boards, bigotry isn’t. W@**k**

  • ummm…

    Thanks for the reasonable answer, and taking the time to explain. I understand the reasoning. I was being a bit cheeky.

  • ummm…

    Ok help me understand. You probably mean something along the lines of, people are moving so fast, the is a natural tendency for the group to take up as much road space as possible. The legs are not in the direct line of sight so they are hard to account for etc. All makes sense. However, in my world sometimes I can make a flippant comment about how in life we must be aware of our surroundings and except that nothing is perfect. FInal 200 meters have no legs. You want to spring from 300 out, fine. But, don’t get all but hurt because you don’t agree. Tashkent terror found the walls on his own without the help of legs. Lets get rid of walls all together and let ppl cyclocross the final 1KM.

  • J1

    You’ve never been in a race have you?

  • John Westwell

    It’s OK if you’re at the front of the bunch, but if you’re behind other riders, going at 40mph, you won’t be able to see the feet sticking out. It isn’t unreasonable to assume that you have the whole of the road to ride on during a stag finish – from the photograph, it seems that at least 2 feet on either side is taken up by the barriers.

    It’s almost 25 years since Abdoujaparov crashed into such a protruding barrier on the Champs Elysees, and they began to be withdrawn from elite races. As Bernie Eisel says, cycling is dangerous enough without organisers literally putting obstacles on the course.

  • Paul

    Oh please what? Have you ridden this race? If not you should shut up. You can’t see the legs if you are riding in a bunch. Ignorant yank.

  • ummm…

    oh please. Cyclists are sometimes such pus****s. Don’t get close to the legs. The road is only so wide. Factor in the legs.