Video: Official car causes Women's Tour crash, several riders down (updated)

Race controller's car veers across road prior to official start of Stage 4 today

by Simon_MacMichael   May 10, 2014  

Women's Tour Stage 4 crash

Updated: A number of riders came down in a crash prior to the official start of Stage 4 of the Women's Tour this morning - and a video posted to YouTube suggests it was due to the race  controller's car suddenly veering across the road. Race organsieres SweetSpot have told road.cc none of the riders was injured.

The incident took place in the village of Wormley, near Broxbourne, Hertfordshire when the stage was still neutralised prior to kilometre zero.

The race controller's vehicle - identifiable by the red and white chequered flag - is being driven on the left hand side of the road when, immediately after a traffic island, the driver seems to realise that the vehicle is heading straight for the railings on the central reservation.

The driver takes evasive action, and hits a road sign - but not the railings. SweetSport says no riders were struck by the vehicle, but in the confusion several riders did come down, as the video, shot by Paul Hosking, shows.

They included Aude Biannic of the Lointek team (number 61), who would finish eighth, and mountains classification leader Sharon Laws of United HealthCare, in the polka dot jersey. An unidentified rider on the opposite side of the road appears to require treatment from the race doctor.

In a statement issued on Sunday afternoon, SweetSpot told road.cc:

Yesterday on the Friends Life Women's Tour stage from Cheshunt to Welwyn Garden City an incident occurred which has drawn some interest.

At the start of every stage there is a neutralised zone where the speed of the competitors is kept low whilst the peloton moves out of the town centre and whilst the race convoy of vehicles gets into position.

There are strict UCI guidelines to ensure this is carefully managed and the peloton is led by the Race Controller's vehicle displaying a warning flag. In such circumstances no competitors are allowed to overtake the Race Controller's vehicle  and are to exercise extreme caution whilst the warning flag is displayed.

Yesterday, for a short period, and whilst in the neutralised zone, several riders overtook the car resulting in the car striking a road bollard whilst taking avoiding action. Some riders fell as they in turn avoided the car, but we are pleased to say that there were no injuries to anyone. The incident took place at low speed before the race began.

Yesterday in Clacton, Essex, a man on a mobility scooter nearly caused a crash when he crossed the road while the race was in progress, with the incident caught on video by a 12-year-old boy.

The video can be seen on this BBC News Essex article, with the boy, Sam Wilkinson, saying: "I was really shocked, I thought he was going to get clipped and they were all going to pile up, if he'd only been a moment later it would have been mayhem."

23 user comments

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Aren't they subject to the same laws of the road, despite it being a closed road event, as the rest of us??? Something should be done but if it's British justice the cyclists need to watch out as they'll get blamed for it.

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posted by cidermart [456 posts]
10th May 2014 - 21:42

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He does appear to have injured some riders. Reminds me of the Hoogerland crash -driver reacting for his own safety, not the riders' despite being in a metal box. Its a natural reaction, but im not sure that excuses it. Certainly he shouldnt be driving around bike races anymore

posted by balmybaldwin [23 posts]
10th May 2014 - 23:11

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What was the car doing there anyway. Shouldnt be in the middle of the race. Should be behind or in front. Confusing.

posted by Will Steed [47 posts]
10th May 2014 - 23:28

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Will Steed wrote:
What was the car doing there anyway. Shouldnt be in the middle of the race. Should be behind or in front. Confusing.

Its a rolling neutralised start where the lead car holds the peloton back Will. Totally normal. The riders often swarm the vehicle so a sudden move from the car is very likely to cause an accident. But its not at all common.

Just one of those unfortunate things IMHO.

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posted by aslongasicycle [290 posts]
10th May 2014 - 23:37

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It was neutralised, and the 2riders in front are the Trott sisters who were given the honour of leading the race through their home town which seems to be a thing they do when its before the official start

posted by balmybaldwin [23 posts]
11th May 2014 - 1:07

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I'd say that on this occasion it was the sudden braking, more than the swerving that caused the cyclists problems.

But look at that street furniture, that is the real problem. Designed to keep non-car traffic from using the road.

Getting rid of that kind of thing and designing roads for all types of user would help us all.

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posted by jmferros [5 posts]
11th May 2014 - 8:16

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Cycling really does appear shambolic compared to other high-profile sports.

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posted by nowasps [242 posts]
11th May 2014 - 8:18

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Funnily enough I was watching the neutralised bit and was thinking that the riders needed to keep back. this race does seem to have the riders exceptionally close and around the car compared with others I have seen. My thought was that if the car had to stop hard (lets say a child, dog, invalid scooter pulled out in front of them ) then the riders would have no chance. I bet that's a stressful job , driving that car with all those bikes virtually touching it. As some one mentioned, rules of the road1 If this still applies then there was some daft cycling going on. In this situation it was just one of those things. It didn't really mirror the fleche incident but even that wouldn't have been commented on if there had been no contact.
Just one of those unfortunate things that go along with racing, a bit like Dan Martin and his drain cover. Now was that at fault or him?

posted by mattsccm [244 posts]
11th May 2014 - 8:23

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I don't understand what the driver was doing. There was no reason for that to happen other than lack of attention or not looking where he was going. They had just passed a small traffic island and so should not have been in the middle of the road, but should have stayed in the lane they were in. I really don't understand at all what that was about, and would be interested to hear what the driver thinks happened but from that footage here seems to be no reason to have gone from driving along a road to smashing into the central barrier.

posted by md6 [154 posts]
11th May 2014 - 10:47

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100% the fault of the driver - utterly bizarre and illogical manoeuvre...what was he thinking?!

posted by StoopidUserName [25 posts]
11th May 2014 - 14:03

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And you were in the car were you?
Not saying it wasn't but that's rather a dogmatic comment.

posted by mattsccm [244 posts]
11th May 2014 - 15:12

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Lead car was correctly driving on the left, but the bunch was using the whole of the road, and starting to overtake on the right. It looks like the lead car might have been moving to take a more central position to neutralise the bunch more effectively, and just got caught out by the second island, which they obviously didn't see until too late.
Riders will often bunch up very close to the lead car in the neutralised zone, because no one wants to be stuck at the back when the flag goes down.

posted by kcr [58 posts]
11th May 2014 - 15:37

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If you look closely the Trotts were infront getting publicity shots with Moto 1 behind, this obstructed the drivers view.

No rider is allowed to pass the controlling car in the neutral zone, also the obstacle isn't marshalled so he was presented with a bollard at the last minute.

Thankfully no-one was hurt.

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posted by FurnaceMedia [17 posts]
11th May 2014 - 18:46

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Hey Will, See my response... It's a freak accident... very rare for this to happen. But the Trotts should be behind the car and the peloton behind them.. just like in the TdF on the approach to the champs elysees

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posted by FurnaceMedia [17 posts]
11th May 2014 - 18:56

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Its that old man again from Clacton on his mobility scooter blocking the road.... (lead car swerved to miss him)

posted by cyclingdave70 [18 posts]
11th May 2014 - 18:57

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I was in our team car today. The chief commissare was very specific that no riders come alongside the lead car.

Races are frenetic nervous places full of vehicles and fast riders mixing. Often with high stakes. Armchair complainers need to experience that first hand. It wasn't good. But sh*t happens.

Was an awesome race. Loved waving to the crowds. Which were huge. So happy!

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posted by aslongasicycle [290 posts]
11th May 2014 - 19:27

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Great to have a sponsor like Vulpine involved in cycling .. Great for the onthedrops team and everyone associated with the sport..

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posted by FurnaceMedia [17 posts]
11th May 2014 - 20:12

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Hmmm.
"Yesterday, for a short period, and whilst in the neutralised zone, several riders overtook the car resulting in the car striking a road bollard whilst taking avoiding action."
Which I'm not really seeing in the video.

"Races are frenetic nervous places full of vehicles and fast riders mixing. Often with high stakes. Armchair complainers need to experience that first hand. It wasn't good. But sh*t happens. "
The mixture of experience and trust is more important. My trusted rider was vastly experienced and able to read the activity on the road and position himself perfectly.
Shit does indeed happen, but sometimes it's preventable. If the commissaire had been in control of the riders, this wouldn't have happened.
To pull a statement out that essentially puts the blame on the riders overtaking the control car is simply wrong.

Looking at today's accidents on the Giro, I'm left wondering why there is no-one in place to warn of the street furniture.

KalaBlinds 'cos we all need our beauty sleep.

posted by don simon [122 posts]
11th May 2014 - 20:34

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It one thing speaking from an armchair as Nick says, you have to be in a race to understand how fast it is... I was filming in the lead car for the CiCLE Classic, I have also filmed from various cars on the Tour de France.. it is and was crazy... it's bonkers, you have to have your wits about you 24/7 ..

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posted by FurnaceMedia [17 posts]
11th May 2014 - 20:40

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don simon wrote:
Hmmm.
"Yesterday, for a short period, and whilst in the neutralised zone, several riders overtook the car resulting in the car striking a road bollard whilst taking avoiding action."
Which I'm not really seeing in the video.

"Races are frenetic nervous places full of vehicles and fast riders mixing. Often with high stakes. Armchair complainers need to experience that first hand. It wasn't good. But sh*t happens. "
The mixture of experience and trust is more important. My trusted rider was vastly experienced and able to read the activity on the road and position himself perfectly.
Shit does indeed happen, but sometimes it's preventable. If the commissaire had been in control of the riders, this wouldn't have happened.
To pull a statement out that essentially puts the blame on the riders overtaking the control car is simply wrong.

Looking at today's accidents on the Giro, I'm left wondering why there is no-one in place to warn of the street furniture.

Agreed, this looks 100% preventable. Someone could have been seriously injured or worse.

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posted by Fixie Girl [115 posts]
11th May 2014 - 21:58

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don simon wrote:
Hmmm.
"Yesterday, for a short period, and whilst in the neutralised zone, several riders overtook the car resulting in the car striking a road bollard whilst taking avoiding action."
Which I'm not really seeing in the video.

"Races are frenetic nervous places full of vehicles and fast riders mixing. Often with high stakes. Armchair complainers need to experience that first hand. It wasn't good. But sh*t happens. "
The mixture of experience and trust is more important. My trusted rider was vastly experienced and able to read the activity on the road and position himself perfectly.
Shit does indeed happen, but sometimes it's preventable. If the commissaire had been in control of the riders, this wouldn't have happened.
To pull a statement out that essentially puts the blame on the riders overtaking the control car is simply wrong.

Looking at today's accidents on the Giro, I'm left wondering why there is no-one in place to warn of the street furniture.

Totally avoidable.

Pete Bragg
Shutt Velo Rapide
www.shuttvr.com

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posted by Miggers [63 posts]
12th May 2014 - 15:25

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Two things the Car shouldn't have swerved but the riders shouldn't have been so close.
But these things happen we are all human we all make mistakes. Big Grin

I have to say like many commenting, this race was absolutely brilliant. We definitely need to see more women's racing on the telly.

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posted by Rupert [80 posts]
14th May 2014 - 9:56

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As many have said in previous posts, riders are explicitly instructed NOT to pass the lead car or come alongside the lead car at any stage of the race, including during the neutralized zone.

As the statement from SweetSpot points out and as is clearly visible in the video, there are two riders ahead of the LC, and a small number of riders, maybe 2 or 3 (hard to tell with the angle) who are overlapping the LC to the left - therefore, the LC could not move left in order to avoid the central reservation barrier.

The car is further to the right than it would be in other circumstances as the riders are spread across the full width of the road - allowable under the rules, in a closed road situation. This is normal.

Even discounting the two rider ahead of the LC, who it has been suggested might have been given dispensation to be there, this does not excuse the riders on the left of the LC, overlapping it, which were contributory to the problem.

Contrary to what has been posted by balmybaldwin, the driver made a split-second call and probably did the thing that he felt was safest for the riders and piled into the barrier - if his thought had been for his safety / that of the vehicle, he would have cut left in spite of the riders overlapping the car and wiped them out.

Yes, it is both difficult and stressful driving the LC and it's made more so in the neutralised zone by the tendency of riders to sit up close to the bumper - on the open road the LC can move 25 - 50m ahead of the bunch but part of the function of the LC is to control the speed in the neutralised zone. Riders should keep a gap and commissaires should impress not only that, but the absolute rule of never passing or riding alongside of the LC on all members of the peloton.

It looks like a bad case of "sh!t happens", with a contributory factor added in by some members of the peloton - it's just unfortunate that, almost inevitably, it is not the riders who were infringing the rules who suffered worst Sad

I guess we should be grateful no-one was hurt - I have worked on events where things didn't turn out so well ...

This week I have mostly been riding a Mondiale in Deda V107 with Campagnolo Super Record 11 ...

posted by velotech_cycling [73 posts]
16th May 2014 - 16:15

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