Watch: Helicopter blows peloton off the road as it takes off
The downdraft from the air ambulance hit the bunch and pushed riders across the road
Shifts in the bunch are all too common in bike racing.
Whether its movement to avoid road furniture, or a rider not paying attention, there are plenty of hazards when riding in the peloton.
But one danger you wouldn’t expect to face being blown off course by a helicopter taking off just metres from the race.
That was the unlikely cause of a collision during a road race in the Czech Republic.
>>> Can riders finish a race without their bike?
The video was taking during the CP Olomouc in the east of the country and was posted on Facebook on Monday (June 10).
Some viewers have criticised the helicopter pilot for causing the crash.
But witnesses who saw the incident first hand said the helicopter is an air ambulance that had been called to treat a racer who was injured during the race, and that the peloton were not near when the aircraft started taking off.
A similar incident happened on stage six of the Vuelta a España last year, when riders hit the deck and some blamed the race helicopter for pushing barriers across the road and into their path.
Ag2r La Mondiale rider Julien Duval was caught in the crash and needed stitches in his groin.
He later took to Twitter to blame the race helicopter for the crash.
Patrick Lefevere’s son Thomas has appeared in court this month after allegedly flying a helicopter over the peloton during the 2018 Paris-Roubaix.
Thomas Lefevere, 22, allegedly flew a rented helicopter above the peloton during the 2018 edition of the Monument, without informing the French air force.
In December last year Patrick Lefevere, the general manager of the Belgian WorldTour team Deceuninck – Quick-Step, said: “We have never flown above the riders. Far from it. But the world of helicopter men is even smaller than the cycling world.”
The case is due to be concluded on June 20.
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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.
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