The BinckBank Tour peloton narrowly avoided a huge crash on stage three when a cyclist stepped out into the road in front of the oncoming riders.
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A spectator filmed the incident from the side of the road, and it was shared by Trek-Segafredo’s Edward Theuns on Twitter.
The man steps out onto a zebra crossing while pushing his bike right in front of the surging riders, as the race headed towards a sprint finish in Aalter.
Riders are forced to hit the brakes and swerve out of the way, splitting the bunch down the middle.
Miraculously, no riders fell in the incident and the man also avoided being hit thanks to the quick reactions of the pros.
Belgian rider Theuns said on Twitter: “Okay, he was on the crosswalk, but nothing else was safe about it.”
The peloton has had its concerns about the BinckBank Tour, with some riders speaking out about the “dangerous” finals on the opening three stages.
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 BinckBank 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.
BinckBank Tour organiser Rob Discart said: “Every team and every rider was well aware that Wedneday’s stage in and around Aalter was a ‘Flandrien stage’. That means cobblestones and narrow roads, pretty much like in races as Gent-Wevelgem or the Tour of Flanders.
“The security of the riders is and will stay our main priority. But on the other hand, there are no guarantees. For example, we had to adjust the course in the final yesterday because of last minute roadworks.”
Discart said that the route had been inspected and approved by the UCI.
He added: “I understand riders complaining about dangerous situations, but there’s only so much you can do as organiser. And then again: there are different opinions. I asked triple stage winner Sam Bennett if the course was safe, and he gave me a positive answer.”