UCI president David Lappartient has risked stoking tensions with Tour de France cyclists after laying the blame at their feet for the crashes on Stage 3.
Caleb Ewan had to withdraw from the competition and Geraint Thomas had to rejoin the peloton after suffering a dislocated shoulder, but Lappartient indicated that it was simply a challenging section of the course.
Groupama-FDJ director Marc Madiot has claimed that the UCI and other cycling authorities had failed to take sufficient action in order to reduce the threats posed at race conclusions, and even warned there may be deaths as a result.
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Speaking to Ouest France, Lappartient said that Madiot was exaggerating.
“He gets carried away all the time. Cycling is cycling, although I suffer when I see the riders fall. If he still wants races to reach city centers, it has to be accepted that it is a little more technical,” Lappartient said.
He then suggested the problem was merely because the race finished at the bottom of a descent.
“The roads were fine, a constant width and there were no traffic islands,” he claimed.
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“It was technical, but there was a nice finishing straight, it’s just that everybody was going fast because Pontivy is at the bottom of a steep valley.
“Above all, the peloton was very nervous, [Primoz] Roglic a priori was alone when he fell, Ewan was alone.”
Lappartient continued by saying that, “the majority of crashes are due to a lack of attention but I can understand them [the riders], they are so stressed out during the entire day. And inevitably it’s edgy [in the peloton], everybody wants to be up there [at the front], and there’s not enough space for everybody. But I don’t think one should blame that on the route.”
There are rumours of a protest being staged by the remaining riders on the Tour, and the comments from the president will presumably not be taken as a conciliatory gesture.
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