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Call for changes as the Tour de France stage is marred by heavy crashes

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FILE PHOTO: Cycling – Tour de France – Stage 1 – Brest to Landerneau – France – June 26, 2021 B&B Hotels p / b KTM rider Bryan Coquard from France reacts after an accident REUTERS / Anne-Christine Poujoulat

PONTIVY, France – A series of heavy crashes reduced the Tour de France peloton to a heap of injured bodies on Monday, as a prominent sporting director called for greater safety at the world’s largest cycling race.

Two days after a bystander holding a cardboard sign and looking the other way sent Tony Martin and a large portion of the platoon tumbling to the deck, Geraint Thomas and Primoz Roglic and others fell further in separate incidents involving no one. fanatic.

But it was two more crashes in a nervous finish on narrow roads that were the main cause for concern in the pack.

On a left-hand corner with four kilometers remaining on the 182.9 km stage from Lorient, a massive crash downed Frenchman Arnaud Demare and Bahrain Victorious team leader Jack Haig, among others, who was forced to abandon the race. .

Then, in the final meters, Australian Caleb Ewan, one of the best sprinters, suffered a heavy fall at high speed and broke his collarbone, also forcing him to abandon the race.

The last two incidents sparked an irate reaction from Demare’s Groupama FDJ team manager Marc Madiot.

“I am a father. Many families watch the Tour de France on television. There are many children who watch the Tour de France. There are many mothers who watch the Tour de France on television, ”he said.

“Well tonight, I don’t want my son to be a professional cyclist, my wife doesn’t want my son to ride a bike, and many families don’t want their children to ride a bike after what we’ve seen today.

“We have been talking about this for years, but now we have to find solutions. We cannot continue like this, it is no longer cycling. The curve with 150 meters to go… What state is Caleb Ewan in? And the others? So we have to change, we have to be able to say that it is no longer working. “

Madiot lists things that could change to make it safer for cyclists on the go, with constant commands from the team coming through their headphones, sometimes on dangerous roads and on light, fragile bikes.

“Maybe we need to adapt the equipment, maybe we need to take off the headphones, maybe we need to do a lot of things. But it has to be done. If we don’t change anything, we will have deaths, ”he explained.

A prominent sports director who has participated in several editions of the tour lashed out at the organizers for the way they designed the stage finale through narrow and winding roads.

“It’s amazing to send the cyclists down those roads in the last 20 kilometers. It is a circus. It is clear that they do not care about the health of the cyclists, ”the sports director, who declined to be named, told Reuters.

Tour de France organizers were not available for comment.

The president of the International Cycling Union (UCI), David Lappartient, who followed the stage in a car from the official organizers, said the roads were in good condition and not too narrow.

He said that the stakes in the Tour de France make the whole squad more nervous and prone to mistakes.

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