The British and Irish representative on the Professional Cycling Association (CPA) board, Ben Greetham, has called for a reduction in the amount of motorbikes carrying photographers who are permitted to drive alongside or near riders in dangerous areas of races.
After Thursday’s farcical incident on Mont Ventoux when Sky’s Tour de France leader Chris Froome was forced to run up the mountain after he, Richie Porte (BMC) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) crashed into a stationery moto, Greetham says that it is imperative that the UCI act swiftly to implement a set of rules that would prohibit such incidences occurring again.
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A photo showed four stalled motorbikes in front of the aforementioned trio before they crashed, and Greetham – also the chairman of the recently founded BIPCA – says that the sport’s governing body and race organisers need to cut back on the number of photographers allowed on the back of a moto during sections of stages where accidents are likely.
“Absolutely there are too many motorbikes,” Greetham told Cycling Weekly. “It’s a difficult situation because the races needs to be televised but we’re very clear that there needs to be less bikes.
“The bikes do a fantastic job: the marshals and the police are there to help riders. But photographers aren’t adding to the safety of the race.
“There are additional motorbikes that shouldn’t be there in a critical situation, such as where there is narrow roads, loads of spectators and too much traffic.
“We’ve put forward a whole host of ideas [to the UCI] around training for riders, selective dangerous areas where you limit access and areas where passing is illegal.”
The carnage that unfolded on Ventoux could, Greetham believes, have been prevented. ASO, the Tour organisers, had lined the closing kilometres at the summit of the Bald Mountain with barriers.
However due to the high winds that forced the relocation of the finish to Chalet Reynard, they couldn’t move the barriers to the new finish.
Greetham, however, says that there should have been measures in place. “There should have been barriers there. The UCI needs to take responsibility for it, but also ASO because it was badly managed.
“There’s talk that it was windy and moving barriers would have been difficult. But the clue is in the mountain name [vent means wind in French]. You have to have a back up plan. If your back up plan is to move the race further down because of some wind – which was a sensible decision – you should have had some spare barriers down at the alternative area.”
Watch the stage 13 highlights of the 2016 Tour de France
Greetham added that the CPA have been calling for an implementation of rules to ensure safety since a series of accidents in the Spring Classics – one that caused the death of Antoine Demoitié. Nothing, however, has been done yet.
“Our stance hasn’t changed as a group,” he said. “We started campaigning and said we needed some hard and fast rules with regards to safety because at the moment is is just ridiculous. The UCI have not got regulations, no hard and fast rules which we need. There’s lots of talk but nothing is being implemented.
“Cycling is becoming a huge global sport right now but we’re experiencing a lot of amateurish stuff.”