Mick Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) says the potential for a terrorist attack at the Tour de France has “been in the back of my mind” for some time because of the vulnerable nature of the sport.
The Australian’s comments came in the wake of the November 13 attacks in Paris which killed 129 people, 89 of whom were attending a rock concert at the Bataclan theatre in the 11th arrondissement of the city.
Several bombs were also detonated outside the Stade de France, where the French national team were playing Germany in an international friendly at the time.
With Paris the Tour’s traditional host for its finale on the Champs-Élysées, and with millions of spectators lining the length of the Tour route freely every year, Rogers says that the threat of attacks could kill the essence of the Tour and other bike races as a spectacle.
“You could only imagine the expense for the organisers to barrier the whole circuit for hundreds of kilometres, I don’t think that’s a feasible thing to do,” Rogers told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“I think we have to take it step by step and we all have to understand that those possibilities are very difficult in cycling and it would absolutely kill the sport.”
The German May Day race, Eschborn-Frankfurt was cancelled earlier this year because of a potential terrorist threat, as bomb-making materials were found in a house near the route, along with a fire-arm and ammunition.
“It’s been in the back of my mind,” Rogers continued. “Events such as the Tour [de France], a big international event where the whole world is watching.”
“A lot of riders do think about it because we pass a lot of people by the side of the road and it’s quite easy for a potential attack.
“I hope the authorities are doing work in the background making sure the course is clear, but it’s certainly becoming an issue especially [after] this year in May one of the races in Germany was cancelled because authorities picked up on a potential attack.
“We have quite a beautiful view from the peloton where we see so many smiling faces and that’s a huge motivating factor for the riders as well.”
Rogers, a former world time trial champion and three-time Grand Tour stage winner, also confirmed that he would be bowing out of professional cycling at the end of the 2016 season after 16 years in the sport.
“I think it’s time, 16 years that will give me and I’m very proud of what I’ve done, but that’s enough, that’s enough,” Rogers told Fairfax Media.
“It’s physically been very demanding and my girls are growing up quickly so it’s time also to be a father and think about something else.”
The 35-year-old will likely ride in support of Tinkoff teammate Alberto Contador at the Tour de France next year, as the Spaniard too looks to take his leave from the sport at the end of season.