Moto Mayhem?

Sergio Paulinho is the lastest rider to suffer injury from a race vehicle after he was hit during Stage 11 of the Vuelta a España on the same day his Tinkoff-Saxo team issued an “open letter” calling for improved safety and an apology.

Some people have been asking what are the rules about vehicles and safety in the race convoy and what the different vehicles are doing so here’s a look at the topic.

There’s been a list of incidents this year. As well as Sagan and Paulinho you might remember Jacob Fuglsang being knocked off on the Col du Glandon during the Tour de France. Greg Van Avermaet got taken out in the Clasica San Sebastian. More than usual? Hard to say, there’s never going to be an even distribution of these accidents and they keep happening over the years. Social media has changed things as images and messages can be shown around the world in a flash and creates instant demands for something to be done. Bizarrely even Tinkoff-Saxo were polling fan responses following Paulinho’s accident:

What are the rules?
Drivers in the convoy of a World Tour race have to hold a UCI licence and be approved by the governing body. 2013 saw this extended to the media, seemingly a response to the incident with Johnny Hoogerland and Juan-Antonio Flecha in the 2011 Tour de France. There are some specific rules relating to motorbikes in the race convoy but they’re all dry and obvious, for example motorbike riders “shall immediately comply with orders and instructions given by the race commissaires” (Rule 2.2.051) and “these motor-cycles shall manoeuvre in such a way as neither to help nor hinder the progress of the riders” (2.2.071).

The graphic above is an illustration of a typical race convoy and in reality it’s a lot more dynamic. The idea is to keep vehicles away from the racing and let them approach or overtake riders with approved manoeuvres. There are protocols and drills for photographers and TV cameras to overtake the bunch or drop back from the “screen” or “barrage” ahead of the race to capture the action, it’s all in Part II of the UCI rules if you want them. What’s happening in some crashes isn’t flouting these rules, it’s merely poor execution of an overtaking manoeuvre or simply an accident.

Those who fail to comply with rules risk being excluded from the race. In total the rules are not specific and this is no bad thing because you can’t ban accidents simply by writing more rules. Trying to overtake a rider by squeezing into a small gap is a dumb idea whether in a race or an open road.

There can be a lot of motorbikes in a race so could reducing the count help? Arithmetically yes. You might see the pristine countryside on TV but the riders are sucking fumes from the large convoy from many motos:

  • TV camera motorbikes
  • the local TV channel often has a reporter or two on motorbikes
  • photographers are getting the images that this site and everyone else relies on
  • radio stations cover the race live from motorbikes
  • time gaps have to be measured and for now they are based off the motorbikes tracking the race
  • there’s the motorbike with the blackboard for race timing
  • police motorbikes help keep the road open when crowds are dense
  • commissaires monitoring the riders and others in the race convoy
  • neutral support mechanics

That’s not an exhaustive list either. The Tour de France has motorbikes carrying waterbottles for example, they had relay motos for those geo-location telemetry sticks too. Plus cars cause problems too, see this year’s Tour of Flanders with Jesse Sergent and Sébastien Chavanel who were taken out. All together that’s a lot of traffic and it’s also hard to place it all under one authority.

Accountability and conflict: Some vehicles and drivers are working directly for the race but many are working for the media, teams, police and others meaning responsibility and accountability varies. To illustrate this, the race can discipline one of its own employees as it wishes but will it been as easy to hit a TV motorbike with a penalty given the race depends on selling broadcast rights to the channel? Of course negotiations are at high levels compared to lowly officials and motorbike crews but there’s the conflict of interest.

What to cut? We can’t bemoan how riders get away with excessive sticky bottles and then call for fewer commissaires or worry about the crowds and then want to remove the police motos. Even if we prune 10% of the motorbikes this still equates to a 90% chance of an accident.

Never waste an accident: the solution seems to be qualitative rather than quantitative, on safer riding rather than fewer vehicles. Tinkoff-Saxo offer up some ideas today including widening the required distance between riders and vehicles. We can also use accidents; just as some industries with risky practices like aviation and oil exploration launch formal enquiries into accidents, not just to learn what happened but to help prevent it happening again. In a bike race an accident report doesn’t need to be a big deal, just formal account of events where the scene is recreated on paper via diagrams with witnesses invited to comment could help and anyone involved in an accident more than once sees their participation reviewed.

Bike racing is dangerous enough without the entourage becoming part of the problem. Team cars, TV motorbikes and other vehicles are all part of race but they’re not meant to alter the racing. The UCI rules reflect this, most of the regulations are about ensuring motorbikes and other vehicles don’t alter the race outcome by providing a draft rather than basic road safety. The UCI met yesterday to discuss safety but no amount of paragraphs and PDFs are needed to say “don’t hit the riders”.

77 thoughts on “Moto Mayhem?”

  1. “no amount of paragraphs and PDFs are needed to say “don’t hit the riders””.

    Classic, and that should be the case both in & out of a race.

  2. The #1 safety rule I was taught when I worked neutral service: “It’s just a bike race.” That means nothing in the competition is more important than someone’s life. A rider losing a race because of a slow mechanical service, or missing a great photo sucks, but running someone over is far worse. That means knowing when to back off if things get too exciting.

  3. Doubling the distance is one thing, I think you also need to limit the speed at which motors can pass. They should not be trying to accelerate through a gap, they should wait until there is space and slowly overtake, without sudden accelerations. Maybe set a relative speed limit in relation to the rider’s speed (+5-10 km/h)?

    • An overtaking speed limit would be very difficult to enforce, and would probably not help. There are situations where the whole field needs to be passed, and passing that slowly would be more dangerous, not less, as the “exposure time” would be increased. Sometimes one also needs to get out of the way as quickly as possible – riders can go from one side of the road to the other extremely quickly (think attacking, or change in wind direction).

      • Couldn’t all moto’s be equipped with a siren of some sort that they can beep when passing etc. At least use the horn so riders can move right etc. I have a bell on my bike for when I overtake others. Works pretty well.

        • Motos and cars use their horn in races all the time to pass riders, and to warn other vehicles of riders passing them (many team cars even have “musical” horns, to give a little different effect from regular horns), and riders usually get out of the way. In the heat of racing vehicles trying to pass sometimes get ignored by riders, which is fine, it’s a bike race, not a moto/car race!

          The cases recently seem to be drivers either not using their horn correctly, or ignoring the fact that the riders have not actually moved.

    • Within the sport there are many who would not want to close of a contract avenue that might one day be needed. The other thing is that from what I’ve seen is that Oleg usually hangs himself if you give him enough space to unfurl the rope, something ASO are doing to great effect. Here today, gone tomorrow.

      • I’d go with that and add that anything he tweets should come with a week long cooling-off period, if it still makes sense a week later then it could be put on the agenda for a meeting but too many people seem bothered by his instant messages.

        • Agree.

          As an example he was slagging Froome off yesterday only to tweet a rather grovelling (an uncharacteristic) apology when news of his injury emerged.

          Oleg is great fun on twitter but fun in the same way as UKcyclingexpert

    • Tinkov, for once, is in the right here and not just making noise for publicity. What has happened to both Sagan and Paulinho is a crime, and worse with Majka in 4th at 1:28.

    • For the first (and probably last) time ever, I agree with pretty much everything Tinkoff has said on the matter. You can’t have a race moto almost kill (no exaggeration) one of the riders, then fine the rider for damaging the image of cycling. How would you react if a motorbike did that to you on the open road, never mind in a bike race you think you’re about to win (but probably come 2nd again)?

  4. not sure I agree that reducing motos by 10% will still leave a 90% chance of an accident. The relationship between traffic density and accident rates is not linear, there are critical levels at which saturation, congestion and increased danger occur. It could be that a small reduction achieves a large benefit. I wonder if the UCI and race organisers keep an official ‘accident book’ recording all incidents including near misses. I expect there simply isn’t time, inclination or resources to do a thorough job of this but the data could be used to re-evaluate race convoy design scientifically, no doubt there are experts in this field who could advise. I may be wrong but the current status quo seems to have evolved organically over the last hundred years rather than by design. There could be a radical and better way of doing it. I also wonder what contribution electric vehicles could make over the next few years as battery technology continues to improve, the fumes and noise of the convoy detracts from the enjoyment of watching races from the roadside and i don’t suppose its much fun for the riders either. Maybe thats why so many of them seem to have asthma….

    • You make an interesting point about electric cars. What I would say is their drawback is how quiet they are but this is probably easy to overcome in a racing context.

    • Agree with the electric vehicle (and moto) idea, though that assumes that the battery could last 6 hours of going at relatively slow (and perhaps inefficient) speeds during mountain stages. Plus it could be a showcase for manufacturers of electric cars to show off new models, and potentially bring in more.
      On another note, I remember doing a race in the early 90s where the commissaires were sitting on the back of Harleys… nothing like riding in the middle of the pack with a loud motorcycle a few feet away driven by someone with no experience!

    • I agree it’s probably not linear. Taking out 10% of the vehicles leaves more space for other vehicles to maneuver, making each remaining vehicle less likely to cause an incident. Taking out 10% of the vehicles will (hopefully) mean removing the worst 10% of drivers.

      I think trimming the number of motos & cars is definitely an avenue to pursue.

      • Tracking ‘near misses’ is a vital thing. You can not assess the risk based only on the times an accident actually happened.

        By reviewing the near misses you can understand why an accident didn’t happen on that occasion and that will better inform your planning in the future.

        This kind of approach has been important in the construction industry for example and I’m sure there are other examples that could be very useful.

        • I would really like to know how much due diligence is being done on safety in pro cycling, every year we hear riders and commentators saying that there are more crashes than before, but nothing seems to be done about it. What are the actual statistics? What part do national safety organisations and police play? This information should be being reported annually by UCI and race organisations. As many riders are working as sub-contractors rather than employees I guess the teams aren’t doing much about it, but somebody should be taking responsibility. As much as I disagree with Tinkov on many things and suspect ulterior motives may be involved, I think he is right to kick up a stink about this issue. There have been too many deaths and life-changing injuries in cycling already.

          • One of the Cycling Podcast’s specials had the race radio guy on and he mentioned he recorded the accidents per race (I think I’m remembering this correctly) It was in the context of asking him what was causing all the crashes, with theories on carbon wheels, lack of respect, etc, etc…… His response was simply that there are no more crashes currently than there always has been, in the TDFs he has covered.

            Admittedly, the number of Moto based crashes certainly seems more, but is this perception or reality (and is this year a statistical blip?)

            Whether it is or not, we should obviously be looking at reducing crashes and not maintaining the status quo. I’m surprised there aren’t more crashes in all honesty. The margin of errors in a peloton at 55km/h are so small and the effects of a simple touching of wheels can be so instant and savage, as we have seen. It is what makes the unneccesary crashes caused by non-riders all the more gauling

    • “Even if we prune 10% of the motorbikes this still equates to a 90% chance of an accident.”

      I had to laugh when I read this. It seems to assume we have 100% chance of an accident prior to reducing motorbikes by 10%. It might feel that way at times but let’s hope our chances rate better than that!

    • have asthma ? a number of them are fake just to get the TUE, and there are those that have it because they don’t know how to breathe properly, so over time it develops…. mouth breathers……

  5. “The solution seems to be qualitative rather than quantitative…”

    It does seem that everywhere, not just bike races, driver’s skills and common sense are on the decline and driver’s distractions are on the rise.

  6. Your paragraph”Never waste an accident” is a fantastic idea. Much like the Rail Accident Investigation Board in the UK. Independent investigation of these things and sharing the results will likely result in a safer peloton and safer races, although we can never rule accidents out completely.
    You could even apply this method to accidents such as Peter Stetina’s crash earlier this year

    Top stuff as always Inrng.

  7. Less moto traffic can’t hurt. Perhaps there needs to be a pool for photographers and VIPS so they’re not all out there every day? I wonder what it takes to get the license to drive a vehicle in the race caravan? One would think there would be instructions and perhaps testing but the way some of these drivers act out there it’s hard to believe it’s any more than the old, “Yeah, he’s OK, give him a license” wink and a smile routine. And then there’s enforcement, in my mind if you hit a rider, your license is torn up on the spot and you find something else to do. What seems to happen now is you issue a vague apology and it’s back to business-as-usual.
    As usual Tinkoff’s all bluster with his threats, pulling the team out of the race with a guy in 4th on GC would have sent a real message on how much he values the safety of his riders over anything else.

    • Blanket rules won’t work. The amount of vehicles may need to be in proportion to the size of the field, and the nature of the parcours. In addition to the service and police motos, you have moto marshals controlling intersections (which need to rotate, so they go from the front to the back, up to the front again), and protecting various groups of riders; it is all rather dynamic, under the supervision and direction of a moto designated as the “regulator”.

      In the US, to get a USAC drivers license (that enables one to drive in domestic UCI races), one needs to provide proof of having a valid drivers license, insurance, and submit to an independent background check, but there is no formal training or proficiency test. I know a group of highly experienced Moto Marshals who perform clinics on their own. Another way of getting to drive is to have a valid Director Sportif license, but again, this doesn’t necessarily speak to proficiency behind the wheel.

      Cycling Canada has an on-line training program available (taking it is mandatory to drive in events in Canada):

      The reality of the situation is, that you can be licensed, you can be briefed, you can receive some training, but nothing in the real world is going to prepare you for driving in a caravan; it is a world unto itself. You learn best by doing, and hopefully progressing from basic duties to more complex ones over time.

      • I beg your pardon but think a blanket rule like “hit a rider, you’re off the race and will never drive in one again” would work VERY well. “On the job training” when it comes to piloting a car or moto in a race caravan is not a good idea, lives and careers are at stake!

        • OK, but how do you train for driving in a caravan without actually driving in a caravan?

          Some things can’t really be simulated. Going through presentations, reading rule books, and watching videos don’t show you what it is really like in the procession or caravan. These will each provide info for new drivers, but they won’t resolve the issue here.

          • I’d start with the candidates – where do they come from? Ex-pro moto racers or car drivers would be a good choice as they already have skills and experience in close-quarters. Experienced caravan drivers could give lessons, possibly in less important races, with the newbies in the back seat learning how it’s done. Ex-pro bicycle racers would have one part of it down, but would need to learn the motor vehicle driving skills. I think it would be easier to teach those already comfortable with operation the vehicles in challenging conditions the special issues involved with bicycle racing caravans than vice-versa. As you noted those Moto Marshalls conduct clinics.
            I’m old enough to remember when BMW North America ran a program, specifically with the old Coors Classic and the 1986 World’s in Colorado, though in the Coors, Campagnolo’s Jim Ingram once lost control of the neutral support station wagon and rolled the car off the road. No riders were hit or injured though Jimmy perhaps could have used some driving lessons beforehand? That day was supposed to be my first time driving a 15 passenger van with bikes on the roof and tour VIP’s inside. After seeing the car wreck I was glad the plans were changed at the last minute!!!

  8. As much as the recent accidents involving Peter Sagan et al are utterly deplorable and should (hopefully) lead to some kind of new sensibility being demonstrated by the moto and car drivers… everyone got up and walked / rode away, relatively unscathed.

    BUT… its hardly a new problem. And that’s not always the case.

    The 1998 Amstel… Scott (Sunderland) very, very nearly lost his life…

    Moto pilots and car drivers MUST pay a damn site more attention…


    • that one sort of appeared to be the rider’s fault, although it’s true the driver should have seen it coming and taken evasive maneuvers rather than “letting” him run into the car.

      • It’s never the riders fault in the race caravan. The guy in the two ton steel box should run into a brick wall before letting a rider come into contact with his vehicle. Period.

        • Additional video of a moto causing a crash this year (this video can be unenjoyable!)

          starting at 32s

          these moto guys – seemed to “forget” to think about additional cyclists likely because they had never bicycled at high speed before.

          There is a nasty crash first (Brammeier – Mtn/Qhubeka)… the moto effected riders are from Columbia & Bardiani CSF.

          a)This argues for moto drivers to have better knowledge of bike races (versus being good police moto officers thinking normal safety) … they didn’t pass a high level UCI test…

          b)I would also say that organizers can’t use super narrow roads – with out expecting problems. See Luis Leon Sachez getting stuck behind the moto on stage 10 of Vuelta. A few (~10) minutes before Sagan is dropped… or from a safety perspective movistar’s Rojas crashing at the same corner as canondale’s House 20 minutes earlier…..

          c)A suggestion – how about switching all bottles to being closer to the peloton – a neutral feed support. It could offer generic water/electrolyte drinks / basic food – without the need for the constant car traffic for bottles. With earpieces you don’t need to go back to the team car as much. The supplier could give out 4000 water bottles a day during a hot stage!

          d) I have talked to teams, sponsors and race organizers on the immense value they get from of inviting VIPs in to vehicles . Think a first row seat at Wimbeldon or corporate suite in a stadium – it can drive business – i.e. money

          This is driving up car traffic.

          Can they come up with a better way – that is close and…. exclusive.

  9. liability

    if you make the race organizers/moto drivers financially liable in situations where they’re found to be at fault (as is generally the case for public road users) I think they’ll take a bit more care.

    • Normal traffic rules often apply within a race, especially for accidents. But making a race responsible is different than a driver, it’s like making a haulage company responsible for what a driver does, it’s not always a corporate issue.

      • But doesn’t it look the case currently that nobody is being held responsible for anything?
        An occasional apology and pass-the-buck.
        Nothing changes.

        Somebody, somewhere – and not continually the poor saps riding their bikes – has to be hit where it hurts before anything will change.

  10. This is mainly in response to Tinfoff-Saxo’s list of suggestions on how to make moto/car behaviour more regulated. This initiative seems to be long overdue, at least IMHO, as it seems that the last decade has brought the increase in the frequency of incidents of the sort that provoked it.

    On the other hand, I have seen various comments, containing some kind of data that, although not fully fledged statistical analyses themselves, seem to try to make the point that the situation has not been worsening over the years. As such events are (in statistical terms) rare events, only long term observation could have the needed reliability, but would then obliterate recent changes in trends. In the absence of such data, it should be prudent to err on the side of caution.

    My input is that a few other rules should be considered as possibly useful regarding the movement of motos/cars through the peloton, such as:

    – maximum moto/car speed relative to riders should be limited (say to within 5-10 km/h of the one of the riders)

    – prohibiting sudden moto/car accelerations (either positive or negative – i.e. braking) while within the vicinity of riders (which is definitely something I suggest has recently become a “standard” moto riders’ behaviour, although it is one that should be prohibited rather than used), in all cases but when such an emergency manouvre is needed to prevent collisions, or other imminent harm to riders. I stress that this is perhaps the most important of the suggested rules, as during the acceleration/braking.

    – mandatory use of siren (short, non-intrusive but clearly audible short beeps, I suggest) when within the specified vicinity of a rider (elipse-like, shorter laterally than longitudinally, zone should be specified). The mutual awareness of closeness would thus be maintained even without direct visibility.

    – limiting the number of motos/cars that can be “inside” the peloton at any given time. Commisaires should monitor and authorize these moto/car movements

    I am fully aware that the attempt to cover everything by dissecting the ways of responsible behaviour and usage of sound judgement into myriad of rules can be viewed as overburreaucratisation, it should not be viewed as such, but as the attempt to, by making them aware of the rules, make the moto/car drivers in fact aware of the simple thing that they should at all times exert maximum caution and always have the riders’ safety as the first objective in mind.

    By making them aware of the rules and the enforcement measures, make them aware of the responsibility they are carrying.

    I am sorry if I was over-wordy regarding this.

    • Was interrupted during writing the above post and inadvertently hit Send without finishing the sentence in the rule suggested regarding banning sudden moto/car accelerations.

      I think that this is perhaps the most important suggestion as, during the acceleration/braking, the manouvrability, and therefore the ability to react to anything that may happen unexpectedly, is significantly diminished. I can attest to that backed by the decades long experience of riding motorbikes.

  11. Here’s a thought: why do we need such a big convoy in the first place?

    That’s what Gerard Vroomen wrote in 2011. One of the best and most out-of-the-box pieces I have seen from this. Here’s the first part:

    His main points:
    – Take out all the team cars. Tatics can be delivered by radios. Foods and drinks by neutral support. Same for spare wheels and quick fix.
    – Bike change? No more. If your bike break, you can kiss your Tour bye bye. Just like in F1. The good side is that manufactures would have to come up with real frames that can take the stress, not marketing idiosyncrasies.
    – Sport directors all in the same room. Talking to each other during the race. Good TV interviews opportunity also.
    – Just 3 photographers to cover the race from inside.
    – No more VIP cars. There’s no VIP experience in being for 4 hrs on a long line of vehicles seeing almost nothing from the race.

    +1 for him.

    • Would you have the directeurs sportifs in a room at the start (then send them possibly long distance to that night’s hotel after the race with the roads full of departing spectators) or the finish (how do they do the pre-race briefing)?

    • TV bikes? Or are these included in the 3 photographers?

      Interesting points, but I think you have to have the DSs in the race convoy (maybe behind in a bus). Also not having spare bikes is a bit unfair. F1 cars race on an enclosed track where the variables are known and more tightly controlled. Bike races take place on public roads, rarely crossing the same terrain more than once or twice.

      • TV Bikes not included on that list. A bike race is not necessarily far. Riders fall and that’s part of the race. In 21 days they also get sick. A mechanical is part of life.

        As an amateur you would expect your bike to endure. So should a professional. We would all have more reliable bikes, for sure.

        About the DS’s, have them briefing the riders and after the start they go to the finish. They can use the same roads that the race will pass, which will have no traffic btw. And could see for themselves what to expect from the finish (gradients, crosswinds, etc).

        However those thoughts are not mine, they are from Vroomen, the guy who created Cervelo and run/sponsor Cervelo Test Team. The guy deserves some credit, wouldn’t you agree?

  12. The problem with the motos and autos is not so much the numbers of vehicles in the caravan, but rather the passing of riders and groups of riders and particularly large groups. What is needed is restriction of who can pass and when. The way it is is not working

    • Actually, these are regulated by the Comms and the Regulator, not that their wishes are always obeyed. These recent accidents have probably represented poor judgement within authorized actions by the race officials.

      Some accidents are just blatantly stupid (Van Avermaet, where the moto driver was just too damn close). Others are more nuanced, as situations can change quickly, and rider behavior isn’t always the easiest to predict (Fuglsang, where riders shifted lines, and the moto driver was moving too fast and passed too close when Fuglsang pulled off).

  13. Much of it is common sense. There are too many vehicles in the race at the moment, and without wishing to sound like Kirby many camera bikes ride far too close to either the first rider or the last rider, particularly on fast descents.

    We see it all the time in real life with tailgating on motorways, all it needs is Martin, G or Pinot to do their usual thing at 70km\h and the bike goes straight into them putting not only the rider’s health in danger but also the moto riders.

    It’s farcical at times like with Puma yesterday. Use the damn zoom and show some consideration. If the producers are warned that their camera people will be thrown off the race then they may be a little more vocal to the motos to back off. If a moto team continue to drive too closely then they are thrown off for a period of weeks to teach them a lesson.

  14. Who was it in yesterday’s queen, that goes downhill conservative and there’s footage from the moto showing the moto on His ass. Shouldn’t that moto be thrown out at that point right then? I think the announcer was commenting that the moto seemed to be pressuring the racer to go faster… or something to that effect.

    Watching that I was uncomfortable for that rider! That was before the news of Paulinho. I could perhaps examine some footage; get more specific, but I’m certain other’s here know the incident.

  15. Rather than allowing any schmuck with a drivers’ license onto the race course, only those moto riders and auto drivers who have undergone bike racing-specific driver training and safety awareness programs, and passed a test certifying their qualifications, AND who are registered with the UCI as certified drivers, should be allowed onto the course with racers. Sure, it will mean more administration and red tape, but it will generate some additional income for the UCI in the form of driver registration fees.

    But let’s not forget that no matter how many regulations might be on the books, using a little common sense and paying attention to the road are the keys to avoiding accidents. Whether it be twenty years ago when the commissaires’s car drove over a fallen rider on the Mur in the Tour of Flanders, or more recently in the Tour of Utah where a race course director’s auto simply stopped in the middle of the road at the end of a curvy downhill seemingly waiting for a rider to careen into the back of it, there’s just simply a lack of common sense and a deficiency in attention on the road sometimes.

  16. As the break was being caught in stage 12, the outriders were trying to pass to get out of the way of the on rushing peloton. 3 motos finally made it through but in those last few k’s, as the breakaway split up and riders attacked on different sides of the road, there were a few hairy moments. It would have made more sense, to me at least, for those motos to maintain an even pace and let themselves be overtaken by the peloton much as tiring breakaway riders are. Have a look again at the final 4k, I counted at least 3 occasions where contact between riders and the motos could easily have happened on another day.

  17. oops – i meant to post this at the bottom..

    Additional video of a moto causing a crash this year (this video can be unenjoyable!)

    starting at 32s

    these moto guys – seemed to “forget” to think about additional cyclists likely because they had never bicycled at high speed before.

    There is a nasty crash first (Brammeier – Mtn/Qhubeka)… the moto effected riders are from Columbia & Bardiani CSF.

    a)This argues for moto drivers to have better knowledge of bike races (versus being good police moto officers thinking normal safety) … they didn’t pass a high level UCI test…

    b)I would also say that organizers can’t use super narrow roads – with out expecting problems. See Luis Leon Sachez getting stuck behind the moto on stage 10 of Vuelta. A few (~10) minutes before Sagan is dropped… or from a safety perspective movistar’s Rojas crashing at the same corner as canondale’s House 20 minutes earlier…..

    c)A suggestion – how about switching all bottles to being closer to the peloton – a neutral feed support. It could offer generic water/electrolyte drinks / basic food – without the need for the constant car traffic for bottles. With earpieces you don’t need to go back to the team car as much. The supplier could give out 4000 water bottles a day during a hot stage!

    d) I have talked to teams, sponsors and race organizers on the immense value they get from of inviting VIPs in to vehicles . Think a first row seat at Wimbeldon or corporate suite in a stadium – it can drive business – i.e. money

    This is driving up car traffic.

    Can they come up with a better way – that is close and…. exclusive.

  18. Re UCI licences
    a) make them more than a formality – drivers must pass a cycle racing specific driving UCI test.
    b) All drivers/motorbikers on a race must have a working onboard camera, the film to be submitted after each racing day to a central body (UCI? licensing body?) who then choose films at random to check the driving standard. If any driver fails to come up to standard, their licence is instantly suspended and must retake his UCI test. The random selection can be anonymised to prevent victimisation.
    c) In the event of a crash, whether or not it involves a cyclist, all drivers involved or in the immediate area of the crash must have their onboard film checked asap, preferably the same day. If to blame or not up to standard, they don’t get their licence back until they pass the UCI test. This is separate to any penalty taken by the race commissionaires.
    d) Drivers/motorcyclists to pay for driving tests and contribute to administration costs.

  19. Is the issue bikes whizzing through the pack, or the ones which orbit within it ?

    In those events which have a ‘rolling road closure’ like Tour of Britain, there’s a continual flow of police and marshal motorbikes going ahead of the peloton to stop traffic and close junctions, then the race goes past and then they rush forward to leapfrog it again : this has to be hazardous when the road is narrow or the pack is dense and spread across the road – but on the other hand the riders are police or specially-trained marshals on powerful bikes, so they can use their speed to nip through safely

    But then we have the TV, photo and press motos hanging around in the middle of the bunch, dawdling about at bicycle speed with a second person hanging precariously off the back, twisting about as they point a camera at the riders and encouraging the driver to get as close as possible for the best shot : that’s just got to be risky

    • It’s very rare to find a motorbike in the middle of the bunch, yet alone filming or taking pics. It only happens if they’re blocked and riders won’t move out of the way; we saw this in the first week of the Tour de France when so many riders were trying to fight for the space.

      • Sorry, but that’s nonsense.
        Every slow, boring, nothing-happening portion of every race has multiple TV shots of close-ups of riders in the middle of the pack.
        You can argue it’s generally safe, if you wish. You cannot argue that it is a rare occurrence.

        • I’d be curious to see this, can you show me some of this, say from youtube, and post back please so I can see what you mean.

          Normally no vehicle is allowed to hang in the bunch; for filming they can be behind or in front and use the zoom or ride on the side of a line of riders that’s in formation at the front or back of the bunch. Also they can film while overtaking but they’re not allowed to sit in the bunch and most times a race has TV motorbikes at the front and one at the back so they don’t need to overtake.

  20. Has anyone seen the video of Paulinho’s incident? What was reported as ‘another rider taken out by a bad moto’ suddenly looks very different when you see what actually happened. Perhaps rather than going straight into instant outrage mode, people should pause before shooting their mouth off. Not that Oleg cares….

    As for Sagan’s fine, surely that was because he attacked the medical car. No matter how pissed off you are (and he had every right to be angry) you don’t take it out on the medical staff.

    • Exactly, twitter seemed to light up saying this was an outrage before we’d even seen the footage.

      As you say with the fine too it’s inevitable. If I got knocked off my bike I would not expect to punch a passer-by’s car out of anger and get away with it. Besides Sagan will not pay the fine, the team will and it is only a tiny note.

    • I’m not sure what your point is here. The moto was clearly in his line as he came out of the apex at speed; he hit the moto, he required both interior and exterior stitches, he had to withdraw from the Vuelta. From what I heard his bone was exposed and he cut an artery.

      Are you holding his bike handling skills against him just because he didn’t fall?

  21. what about replacing TV camera motos with drones? They can be controlled remotely , are less intrusive, and could even provide BETTER pictures. All without the potential to cause accidents and clog up the roads.

      • Good point, but they could be introduced slowly, and adapted according to experience and improved technology. Another option would be to get towns en route, or companies to install fixed cameras at various points on the parcours, particularly through tiny villages, or narrow roads allowing motor to keep a safe distance. It’s very complicated, but as technology improves (and prices tumble) these may become compelling options. no substitute for more care and attention on the roads though….

  22. I was rewatching the beautiful stage 19 of the 1999 Vuelta these days and was reminded, that first: even back then, there was a huge amount of vehicles in the race, it seemed even more than today, second: the motos and cars today drive WAY better and more considerate than they did then (there were countless close moments, one moto crashed, another hit a spectator) and third:the riders were aware and took into consideration, that they share the road with other vehicles (which, no matter if you like it or not, are necessary to run a modern race).

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