Riders have hit out at the organisers of the BinckBank Tour for the ‘crazy and dangerous’ finals in the opening three stages of the race.
The week-long race, mostly held in Belgium with detours into the Netherlands, has included a number of technical finishing circuits on characteristically narrow roads, made more hazardous by heavy rain this week.
Experienced riders from a number of teams have spoken out on social media, criticising race organisers for the “dangerous” finishes.
Safety is currently at the forefront of riders’ minds after the death of 22-year-old Bjorg Lambrecht, who was involved in a fatal crash on stage three of the Tour of Poland last week.
But BinkckBank Tour management has defended the course, saying that it is a “Flandrien route” and that finishes are similar to Classics like the Tour of Flanders and Ghent-Wevelgem.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Tim Declerq said after stage three of the BinckBank Tour: “Hypocrisy of the cycling world. First we have a really touching minute of silence [for Bjorg Lambrecht], five minutes later we have to destroy each other again on a bike lane-wide parcours with a million corners.”
Declerq’s comments were supported by plenty of other riders including his team-mate Bob Jungels, who said: “I guess that most of the riders will agree with me that today’s laps in stage three of the BinckBank Tour weren’t exactly in favour of our security, which results in unnecessary stress/crashes.
“The question is, do we really have to wait until an incident happens before we change something?”
Bahrain Merida’s Marcel Sieberg also supported Declerq’s criticism, adding: “Every race has to get more crazy and more dangerous.
“That’s just terrible and for me it has to change quickly. Please more safety for us riders.”
Riders addressed the concerns to their union, the Cylistes Professionnels Associés (CPA).
Jumbo-Visma’s Jos van Emden was even more outspoken against the race, saying: “UCI, feel free to downgrade the BinckBank Tour to the level of kermesse.
“We speak about safety and then they make a race like this.”
Race organiser Rob Discar told Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad: “It should not be forgotten that when we announced the different courses at the time, we indicated that this is a ‘Flandrien route.’
“That means you are confronted with narrow roads.
“We think that our course, and therefore the finish in Aalter [on stage three], are safe. Mind you, I understand the criticism of some riders. After the race I asked Sam Bennett if everything was okay and he saw no problem. It will depend on the individual.”
Discart added that the course had been approved by the UCI.