Updated: Two incidents involving Shimano neutral service vehicles during 2015 Tour of Flanders; Shimano issues apology
Jesse Sergent (Trek Factory Racing) was hit by a Shimano neutral service car during the Tour of Flanders on Sunday, sustaining a suspected broken collarbone.
The New Zealander was in the lead escape group when the blue estate hit him from the left-hand-side, knocking him down. Sergent’s escape companions then had to haul on their brakes to avoid riding into him.
The car appeared to be moving up the left of the escape group, and was wedged between the riders and the kerb. It is unclear as to why it was alongside the escape group.
Later in the race, a Shimano neutral service vehicle was involved in a second incident when it rear-ended an FDJ team car that was pulling up to assist French rider Sebastien Chavanel. Chavanel was knocked to the ground, and withdrew from the race.
With clear skies and perfect weather conditions, there was little excuse for the pair of unnecessary incidents, and it is likely that there will be a review of team vehicle positioning within races as a result.
Shimano later issued a statement apologising for the incidents, and saying that it is going launch an investigation:
“At Shimano we apologise for both incidents the Shimano sponsored neutral caused today at the Tour of Flanders.
“We especially apologise to the riders and teams involved, Jesse Sergent of Trek Factory Racing and Sébastien Chavanel of Française des Jeux. We wish them a speedy recovery.
“The drivers of the neutral cars are professionals with many years of experience in professional cycling races. We will investigate both incidents deeply and take appropriate action.”