Regular followers will know I’m a huge cycling geek, it’s a HUGE passion of mine, it’s exciting, dramatic and usually has fabulous scenery and visuals if it gets a bit dull. I can describe whole regions of Europe just from having watched so much racing. But at times it can be a dark sport. As a fan there is a balance between wanting an exciting race and a parcourse that delivers a competitive race, the cobbled classics to the mountains all provide their own version of unique racing, short time trials to 3 week slogs round an entire nation it’s such a versatile sport.
However it comes at a price, we know at times there will accidents, crashes and injury. The men and women who ride are truly made of steel. They take it all as part of the sport they compete in. However that doesn’t mean we should do all we can to make it as safe as possible. This week that duty of care was exposed. A course at the Olympics while in the main fabulous was given a dangerous few kilometres and people paid with broken bones and serious injuries.
The joy of this sport is in its hard racing, endurance and athleticism, it is not a blood sport where riders should be put in a position where injury is certain for some. Some of the worlds best riders were hurt in the races and that is unacceptable. Those responsible for that descent have questions to answer.
I’ve spent the last two days traumatised by watching those I admire get hurt, watching their dreams shattered along with their bones. It isn’t a spectacle to be replayed, it isn’t right that their potentially career ending accidents are replayed on social media as gory rubber necking.
In the twenty years I’ve been watching this sport I’ve come to know it can be fatal, in the first years I’d really took interest in road cycling (I’d already fallen in love with the track when Boardman rode in Barca in 1992) we lost Fabio Casartelli. in the years that followed we lost more riders, I cried all the way through the 4th stage of the Giro in 2011 at the tribute to Wouter Weylandt who had lost his life the day before. He’d been a rider that had summed up the joy of cycling, earlier this year we lost 3 riders in 3 days in race incidents.
Today when Annemiek Van Vleuten had her accident all those memories came flooding back, but thankfully she is awake and in hospital. But we must make sure we can do all we can to protect our riders, it didn’t end with helmets, it started there, motorbikes are getting in the way, routes are adding danger, imagine if that road had been wet. We ask these two wheeled gladiators to give us everything, isn’t the least we can do offering them a safe a ride as possible?