Tinkoff-Saxo have issued an open letter to both the UCI and the Vuelta a España organisers, Unipublic, addressing their concerns over the incident on stage eight of the race which saw Peter Sagan hit by a neutral service motorbike.
The Russian team also listed a series of actions they expect the organisations to take in light of the incident, including revoking the fine that was given to Sagan over his reaction to the incident which saw him out of the race and with some severe road rash.
The Slovak champion retired from the race the next day, and is just another incident in a long list of similar collisions that have happened so far this season. Jesse Sergent (Trek Factory Racing) was hit by a neutral service car at the Tour of Flanders in April, Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) was driven into by a photographer’s motorbike at the Tour de France, while Greg van Avermaet was taken out of contention at the Clasica San Sebatian in August by a camera motorbike.
The open letter, addressed to head of Unipublic Javier Guillen and UCI president Brian Cookson, cites five requests from Tinkoff-Saxo who also ask that they are addressed by no later than the final day of the Vuelta on September 13. The team also say that they “reserve the right to initiate proceedings” over the incident.
“The facts are clear and beyond discussion,” the letter reads. “The driver of the motorcycle carelessly and improperly tried to overtake the reduced peloton at very high speed about 8km from the finish line apparently in an attempt to reach the leading three riders a few seconds in front.
“It is clear that the driver should not have performed the overtaking of the peloton and – at a minimum –he failed to use adequate care in his attempt.”
You can read the full list of demands below:
1. Unipublic as La Vuelta’s race organiser issue a public apology for the incident, something not done to date;
2. Whilst not seeing this as in any way as compensating for our loss, we propose that Unipublic offer a donation to a charity organization – to be named by Tinkoff Sport A/S in agreement with Peter Sagan – equal to the value of the prize for the Green Jersey victory, or suggest an alternative which acknowledges that as race organiser it has accountability for the safety of its event;
3. Unipublic take appropriate and concrete measures to prevent similar incidents in the remaining stages of the race and its future events;
4. Tinkoff Sport A/S requests that the Union Cycliste Internationale (Uci) revoke the fine to our rider for “behavior that damages the image of cycling”. The team and Peter Sagan accept the other fine for the reaction Peter Sagan had after the crash but it is simply inappropriate to fine him for damaging the image of cycling under these circumstances;
5. We also request that the Uci initiate – in consultation with our and other teams’ representatives and other relevant stakeholders – a review of the rules regulating the admission to vehicles’ drivers inside the race and the way vehicles are obliged to act while driving in the convoy and peloton, with the intent of implementing appropriate rules changes no later than the start of the 2016 race season.
Tinkoff are not the first to issue an open letter this week to the UCI over safety concerns, with BMC general manager Jim Ochowicz penning his own issues on organisation in a letter released on Wednesday.
“Someone please step forward!” he said in his letter to the UCI.
“Safety problems at races continue to accelerate and are now a nearly everyday issue. The sport is looking for leadership and courage with regards to the safety of the riders.”
BMC have seen riders like Taylor Phinney, Peter Stetina, and Greg Van Avermaet all suffer through incidents which potentially could have been avoided, with Stetina suffering severe injuries after crashing into metal bollards left on the final straight on a stage at the 2015 Tour of the Basque Country.