'Most motorbikes are there to ensure rider safety' says De Panne organiser
Johan Van Hecke of the Three Days of De Panne says the majority of motorbikes in the race are there to keep the riders safe on the road
Following calls to reduce the number of motorbikes on the race route after the death of Antoine Demoitié, the organiser of the Three Days of De Panne insists that the majority of crews are there to increase rider safety.
Demoitié passed away on Sunday night after being struck by a support motorbike at Ghent-Wevelgem and riders like Marcel Kittel have since called for increased safety precautions at races.
The Three Days of De Panne, which starts on March 29, will not see any fewer motorcycles among the riders than in recent years, but organisers at the Belgian race insist that most of the 25 or so vehicles are there to keep riders safe on the route.
According to Johan Van Hecke, 15 riders are mobile signallers - riders who travel the length of the course pointing out obstacles and dangerous sections for riders.
Van Hecke told Sporza that his race has always wanted to minimise, employing more fixed signallers than some races, rather than rely on mobile ones.
"We ourselves provide for years the minimum number of mobile signallers, namely 15. Instead, we opt for more signallers which are fixed on the street," he said.
"We let a limited number of photographers [on the course] too. For now, we continue to accept everyone, but if the number of applications would be too big, we would limit it to 5 or 6. That's doable."
He counted up: "15 cell signalers, 5 to 6 photographers, two motorcyclists of the Cycling Federation and some cops That makes a total of about 25 riders, but which are well distributed throughout the caravan."
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Stuart Clarke is a News Associates trained journalist who has worked for the likes of the British Olympic Associate, British Rowing and the England and Wales Cricket Board, and of course Cycling Weekly. His work at Cycling Weekly has focused upon professional racing, following the World Tour races and its characters.
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