UCI to investigate “extremely worrying” Paris-Roubaix and Basque Country incidents

Riders ignoring a closed railway crossing in Paris-Roubaix and metal bollards in the road during Tour of the Basque Country raises concerns

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has said that it is investigating “extremely worrying” breaches in safety at Paris-Roubaix on Sunday and last week’s Tour of the Basque Country.

The UCI is referring to two specific incidents. During Paris-Roubaix in France on Sunday, riders ducked under a barrier at a railway crossing as a train was approaching to avoid being held up. French rail company SNCF has filed a complaint with police relating to the incident.

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And during the Tour of the Basque Country in Spain last week, a severe crash occurred when riders hit unprotected metal bollards positioned in the road near the finish line.

Several riders came away from the incident with broken bones and injuries and were forced to abandon the race, including Briton Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge), Peter Stetina (BMC), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) and Sergio Pardilla (Caja-Rural). Riders subsequently staged a protest ahead of the race’s stage two.

pais-vasco-bollards-westraIn a brief statement issued on Monday afternoon, the UCI said: “Following two extremely worrying incidents that occurred over the past week during the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco [Tour of the Basque Country] and Paris-Roubaix, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) would like to reiterate that safety should at all times be the number one priority of all those involved in a cycling race.

“The UCI is taking both incidents very seriously and has requested that a comprehensive report on each of them be submitted as soon as possible for review and potential action. It is everyone’s duty to make sure that our beautiful sport of cycling is not tarnished by incidents that appear to have been avoidable.”

>>> Train company files police complaint after Paris-Roubaix riders jump crossing

Both races are part of the UCI’s top-tier WorldTour calendar, and as such should adhere to all of the UCI’s guidelines, including safety of all involved in the events.

Already this season, riders and teams have raised concerns over health and safety issues related to racing in adverse weather conditions, notably intense heat in the Tour of Oman and snow in Tirreno-Adriatico, which has led to the proposal of an extreme weather protocol. This is expected to be in place by the start of the Giro d’Italia in May.