When barriers descended on a level crossing with 87km to go in Paris-Roubaix, several riders ignored the warnings and rode across

French railway company SNCF has filed a formal complaint to the police after a number of riders ignored level crossing barriers during Paris-Roubaix on Sunday.

The peloton was split in half as the barriers descended 87 kilometres from the end of the Hell of the North, but several chanced their luck by scooting across before the train arrived.

French national champion Arnaud Démare was one such rider who made the dash before a high-speed TGV passed by seconds later, only to get tangled in the barriers on the opposite side.


According to race rules, riders who cross a railway line when the barriers are closed face disqualification, but commissaire’s chief Guy Dobbelaere defended the decision to allow them to continue unpunished.

“It wasn’t possible for the leading riders to stop sufficiently safely,” he said.

“The peloton was 10 metres away when the barrier started to close. By neutralising the race for a few moments to not penalise those who stopped, we respected the spirit of the rule.”

But SNCF released a statement on Monday revealing they have taken the matter up with the police.

“Several riders deliberately crossed a level crossing, which is against all safety regulations,” the statement said.

“Millions of TV viewers were able to watch this unauthorized crossing which was extremely serious and irresponsible, that could have ended in tragedy.

“SNCF has decided to lodge a legal complaint and will leave it up to the investigation to determine who was responsible and we regret that such foolhardiness took place.”

Cyclists re-start after a closed level-crossing in the 2015 Paris-Roubaix (Watson)

Cyclists re-start after a closed level-crossing in the 2015 Paris-Roubaix (Watson)

>>> John Degenkolb’s perfect Paris-Roubaix ride

Source: thelocal.fr

  • Cecil Henry

    Seriously, biggest races of cycling and you can’t arrange for the trains to delay for 10 min???

    Just insane. Ridiculous. Why should a race of this stature ever be affected by a train?? No need. Easily solved with the willpower.

  • Matt Whittle

    Its not what many of the riders would have been expecting, and by the looks of it there was very little prior warning. I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the riders who crossed while the barrier was still coming down.

    But the riders who pushed through stationary riders should be fined.

    Alternatively why couldn’t the train wait a minute… after all this is a sporting event which is planned far in advanced, surely the organisers and SNCF could have worked something out?

  • alboo balboa

    Prosecute! Why do sports people think they are above the law , as for the organisers defending such action and the inaction of the governing body the UCI sends out all the wrong messages to the club , sportive and young riders ‘ yeah go for it you can beat that train , yeah you can beat that car at that junction’ wrong wrong ! It is indefensible.

  • John Westwell

    A number of riders were disqualified for doing the same thing in 2006, including Leif Hoste who finished second in Roubaix. I think the ones who rode through before the barriers came down could claim they weren’t transgressing (equivalent to going through a traffic light on amber), but after that, many took a deliberate decision to dodge the barriers. But they should know that the leaders will be slowed to allow the group to reform.

  • Francis Hepburne Scott

    At least a couple of Giant riders went through after the barrier went down. If Degenkolb was among those, ASO need to be strong and take the win off him, if not its a dreadful image for the sport.

  • Mike Prytherch

    They couldn’t stop…. utter rubbish the organisers and riders should be ashamed of themselves

  • Chris Mugglestone

    Looking Looking at that video, the red light was on when the lead cyclists went through, which means stop. They perhaps couldn’t stop, but by the time the barriers were dropping they could stop, and some riders chose to push through others who had stopped to cross! This is highly irresponsible, not only for the risks they took, but for the bad example it sets to others. They also began to cross again as soon as the train had gone, before the barriers were rising, risking bring hit by another train going the other way.