The Tour of Poland’s now infamous downhill sprint finish has been banned by the UCI, in the wake of Fabio Jakobsen’s serious crash.
Deceuninck - Quick-Step sprinter Jakobsen suffered awful injuries when he was pushed into the barrier at high speed during last year’s edition of the week-long WorldTour race, prompting an ongoing debate about rider safety in the pro peloton.
The Tour of Poland regularly features a rapid downhill sprint finish on the stage into Katowice, which has become infamous as riders have previously hit speeds in excess of 80km/h on the dash to the line.
But the finish will no longer be a feature in the Tour of Poland, the UCI has announced, as cycling’s governing body announces sweeping new measures to improve rider safety.
When asked whether the Katowice finish will be affected by changes, the UCI’s road manager Matthew Knight said: “If we’re using Poland as a good example, the race will no longer use that finish anymore.
“The finish was too high speed - it’s the elevation change in that final kilometre.”
The UCI’s changes, which also include banning the supertuck and forearms time trial position, will also see the governing body introduce a database of race incidents and the development of a route evaluation tool, to help race organisers make decisions on safe courses.
Knight added: “It's an example of where our course evaluation tools will be able to identify that and also the race incident database, to ensure that type of high-speed finish is no longer used.
“So that specific one in the Tour of Poland won't be used again and also to ensure that elevation change in the final that increases the sprint finishes from 15 to 20 kilometres an hour more is something that is not allowed.
“Obviously there's there's other considerations such as the type of road, whether it's a bunch sprint, or not.
“In a bunch sprint, a high-speed finish, the expectation certainly is no bends under 200 metres to go. So that's something we're actively working on and we are in touch with organisers on that and explaining that that's no longer accepted.”
Jakobsen’s crash happened in the sprint finish of stage one of the Tour of Poland last August when Jumbo-Visma’s Dylan Groenewegen pushed him into a barrier at high speed and the barriers gave way.
Jakobsen suffered facial injuries and a serious concussion in the fall, while Groenewegen broke his collarbone.
After being disqualified from the race, Groenewegen has now been banned from racing for nine months by the UCI.
Following the crash, Jakobsen underwent surgery to reconstruct his jaw using part of his pelvis and had to wait for the pelvic bone to heal before he could get back on the bike, and then went for his first ride in November.
Jakobsen needed further surgery in February and is still not sure when he can return to racing, but the 24-year-old is determined to compete again.
The UCI will also be enforcing strict rules on race barriers from April 1 2021, including banning lightweight barriers and ensuring all barriers are firmly attached to each other.
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