Motorbikes influencing races a 'big problem' for cycling, says Mark Cavendish

Cavendish weighs in to moto debate ahead of Tour of California

Mark Cavendish at the opening press conference of the 2018 Dubai Tour (Sunada)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) claims that race motorbikes have become a “big problem” in cycling and are increasingly affecting stage outcomes and results.

Speaking at a Tour of California press conference in Long Beach, California, Cavendish quietly weighed in on what has become a topical issue within the sport.

The 32-year-old used his stage four showing at the 2016 edition of this race, in which he was part of an escape that ultimately didn’t survive en route to Laguna Seca, as an example.

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“To be honest I had a word with the commissaire that year because the motorbikes influenced why the break didn’t stay away,” he recalled.

“It’s kind of a big problem in cycling, not this race but just in cycling now. Motorbikes are influencing quite a big part of the race. I hope that doesn’t happen.”

Cavendish echoed sentiment of his former Quick-Step Floors boss, Patrick Lefevere and others that have decried the apparent influence.

After Amstel Gold Race last month Lefevere said he would write to UCI president David Lappartient following one of the few of spring Classics his team didn’t triumph in.

There he reportedly told Belgian press that the escape was able to ride in the slipstream of race motos, forcing Pieter Serry to overexert himself in the chase group.

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“I don’t want to come across as a bad loser, but the role of motorbikes in the race is really scandalous,” Lefevere said. “That applies to other races as well as this edition of Amstel.”

The UCI last year issued revised guidelines for race convoy vehicles, predominately in response to issues and incidents surrounding rider safety, over perceived, inadvertent tactical advantages.

Cavendish will continue his comeback from a so far largely crash-marred season in California. The Manxman specifically outlined his intent on the final stage in Sacramento, a place that traditionally has been happy hunting ground for him.

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Sophie Smith is an Australian journalist, broadcaster and author of Pain & Privilege: Inside Le Tour. She follows the WorldTour circuit, working for British, Australian and US press, and has covered 10 Tours de France.