Newly retired rider Tony Martin spoke to the GCN Eurosport Cycling Show about his concerns over rider safety and what he feels like is lack of interest in race authorities to improve the situation.
Martin said that regardless of his complaints, ”I will still be a fan of professional cycling,” however he had a long list of problems with current standards.
After raising complaints while an active rider, he said that, “Nothing changed really, so we all still have the old standards. We still have the bad crashes. My feeling is we have more crashes. We see more big crashes, more riders are forced to abandon races because of the crashes.”
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The former time trial specialist recalled recent Tours de France as a source of worry.
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“The last two or three years going in the Tour de France, I was I wouldn't say afraid but I was really aware [of] the chance to crash hard the next few weeks," he told The Cycling Show, which is available to stream now on discovery+ and airs every Tuesday on Eurosport 1.
"It was always stressed but not this high level of stress. You can create circumstances where the stress in the peloton doesn't naturally end in crashes, if you create better routes."
The German suggested that race organisers and the UCI were not doing enough.
“You have to react as the organiser,” he began. “As the UCI, you have to react to the circumstances. Do you have to find ways to make this more safe? I think in my opinion, nothing really changed.”
“If [cycling authorities] don't understand how dangerous this, I have to say then they're stupid because they can see the crashes, they can see the riders taken away in emergency cars. So you have to know as a federation that is responsible for the riders, you have to see the situation as it is actually, you should see that you have to react and that you have to do things better. And when I see then that they come with some stupid rules, like forbidden the super tack, or the arrow position. Okay, you can do that. But for me, it sounds more like okay, we can say we did something.
“We create some rules that make race more safe. But honestly, I never saw a rider crashing by doing the super tack, or being in an arrow position. I never saw these positions causing the crash. But I saw 100 times people crashing into any obstacles on the road. Because they were not secured.
“But for me it is more obvious is they don't want to understand it. They don't want to see it because maybe it would be too much. Too much work. It would also maybe cost too much money. I don't know. Security is always also a question of money. Maybe also, when you do when you create any standards, smaller races are not able to.
And I don't see any, any way from any side to make races more safe.
Martin said that he had not had any contact from organisers to make races more safe.
“I never got one request from any organiser to ask. I also never heard from any teammate who was asked by a race organiser how they can make things more safe.
“We went afterwards to UCI to raise concern or to the race organiser. There was never a... discussion how they can make things or we can make things better.
“Accidents in the past, also some really, really bad endings. And nobody learns from this. So that makes me absolutely speechless.”
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The UCI Track Champions League returns for round two on November 27 and you can watch all of the action live on the Eurosport app, eurosport.co.uk and discovery+. Find out more about the "mind-blowing" new era for track cycling.
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