A number of riders continued across the railway tracks after the barriers had come down, but avoid disqualification

The chaos of the cobbles was far from the only risky moment for some riders during the 2015 Paris-Roubaix, with a number making the mad move across railway tracks closed off by a level crossing barrier, which came down as the peloton rode across.

The barriers went into action as the riders were approaching the sector 18 of pavé, the Hornaing, with a host of riders choosing to continue to try and stick with those already across, despite a policeman’s best efforts to hold them back.

The race, which was eventually won by John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) was quickly neutralised to allow the riders caught behind to get back to the peloton.

Race director Thierry Gouvenou later confirmed that none of the riders would face sanction for not waiting, despite the UCI rules demanding riders be disqualified by the commissaires for crossing after the barriers had come down, which is also against the law.

It’s not the first time a level crossing has wreaked havoc in Roubaix. Most notably in 2006, when Leif Hoste and Peter van Petegem and the Vladimir Gusev were all disqualified for dodging the gates.

Tom Boonen, who waited, finished in fifth that year but was later moved up to second behind winner Fabian Cancellara after the trio ahead were disqualified.


Tom Boonen waits at a level crossing during the 2006 Paris-Roubaix (Watson)

  • The Awakening


    RE: “…and I hope they can live with themselves if it has tragic consequences next time.”

    I doubt if it does, they will even consider that they themselves were at fault or to blame for preventing it. In Civil Aviation it is called ‘Tombstone Technology’, where only DEATH creates enough ‘hand wringing’, to create a climate of change.

    Perhaps one day, bridges over the railway lines used in the route for the Paris Roubaix, as a consequence of DEATH, will be named after DEAD professional cyclists?

  • The Awakening

    …and when it does happen, it will be probably said that there were so many missed opportunities to prevent it, but it was sadly missed by all concerned!

  • It already is, with a strong tailwind the start had been delayed to try and prevent them arriving at this section (3 crossings) when a train was due, but the high speeds meant they still arrived when the train it.

  • David Chadderton

    Those riders are all highly paid professionals. Abiding by the law of the land is not an option. Red means stop. There seems to have been a member of every team crossing the railway illegally. Some coordination between race organisers and the SNCF railway timetable seems to be needed so the race can be neutralised before arriving at the crossing; that should not be too difficult in this age of gps computer systems.

  • Ken O’Rourke

    Its classed as STRICTLY FORBIDDEN in the rules yet nobody was disqualified? What a load of bull. I hope the french authorities throw the book at them.

  • Chris Mugglestone

    If nothing else, the riders who pushed passed the stopped pack to cross when the barriers were down must be both disqualified and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. As well as the risk to their own personal safety, there is also the example this sets to those watching, including children. Sadly there are too many cyclists as it is who think the laws don’t applying to them, and seeing their hero’s get away with breaking the law like this will do nothing to help the situation.

  • andrew1953

    It would be a vastly different story if one or more of those riders who ran the gates had been hit -killed or injured.

  • Mark

    What grounds were there for not disqualifying them? By letting them off the organisers have guaranteed that other riders will do the same in future, and I hope they can live with themselves if it has tragic consequences next time. Never mind disqualification: they should receive lengthy bans for bringing the sport into disrepute, and be prosecuted for endangering public safety if French law allows….