Top riders risk missing Liège-Bastogne-Liège after environmental groups' litter complaints

L'Equipe says Belgian police taking complaints relating to last year's race seriously

by Simon_MacMichael   April 19, 2013  

Gatorade Team Sky Green Bottle

Up to 20 riders could be prevented from taking to the start of Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège following complaints about riders breaking health and environmental laws by throwing away bidons and wrappers during last year’s edition, reports L’Equipe, which says that Belgian authorities are taking the matter “seriously.”

Belgian police have visited team hotels to warn riders and staff that they are investigating the issue, and L’Equipe reports that the riders involved include “many of the main protagonists of the Ardennes Classics,” which reach their conclusion this year with Sunday’s race.

A team manager who wished to remain anonymous confirmed that police had visited his team’s hotel and issued a warning that some riders may not be allowed to take part in the race. ASO, which organises the race through its PSO subsidiary, confirmed that while police had met with some riders and team staff, it was not aware of any specific complaint.

The Special Rules for this year’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège include one relating to the environment that did not appear last year, which reads:

Article 13. The Environment

P.S.O. sets up collection areas which are specifically designated to recover waste. Riders must only dispose of their waste, water bottles or any other object in these specially equipped areas. 



Riders and followers must behave responsibly with regards to the environment in all circumstances and respect the legal provisions in force.

Most teams now use biodegradable bottles and the Tour de France roadbook each year now outlines teams’ environmental responsibilities, but it’s still a common site to see riders’ disposing of bidons and wrappers by simply throwing them to the roadside.

A spokesperson representing one of 11 environmental associations in the Wallonia region that are united under the umbrella of the Coalition Nature told L’Equipe: “It is not one complaint, but several that have been made since last year,” but refused to name the riders involved, saying that was a matter for the authorities.

However, the spokesperson added: “If you take the top 30 finishers in the classification of Liège last year, you can see the 20 riders that are the subject of the complaint,” who were apparently identified using TV images and video.

Here’s the list of top 30 finishers from Liège last year – the ones with an asterisk next to their name are due to race on Sunday.

1  Maxim IGLINSKIY *
2  Vincenzo NIBALI
3  Enrico GASPAROTTO *
4  Thomas VOECKLER
5  Daniel MARTIN *
6  Bauke MOLLEMA *
7  Samuel SANCHEZ  *
8  Michele SCARPONI  *
9  Ryder HESJEDAL *
10 Jelle VANENDERT *
11 Rinaldo NOCENTINI *
12 Pierre ROLLAND *
13 Daniel MORENO *
14 Robert KISERLOVSKI
15 Joaquin RODRIGUEZ *
16 Philippe GILBERT *
17 Rui  COSTA  *
18 Julien SIMON
19 Simon GERRANS *
20 Lars-Peter NORDHAUG *
21 Arthur VICHOT *
22 Johnny HOOGERLAND
23 Frank SCHLECK
24 Oscar FREIRE
25 Karsten KROON *
26 Mauro SANTAMBROGIO
27 Maxime MONFORT
28 Dries DEVENYNS
29 Sergio  HENAO *
30 Pieter SERRY *

25 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Good, why should they be allowed to throw stuff away, they collect them from cars, well take them back to the cars, or dispose in the allocated area, otherwise its littering.

posted by mikeprytherch [219 posts]
19th April 2013 - 11:14

6 Likes

Bidons I don't have an issue with as they collected by fans as a momento of the day. Gel wrappers though, grrrrr.

posted by j1mmy76 [64 posts]
19th April 2013 - 11:18

4 Likes

Sorry, but why doesn't the organiser just follow the peloton with a person to pick up the discarded ones? This is an extreme sporting event, not a sportive. The riders are refuelling and if they run out of places to put empty bottles, it's going to slow them down, surely? The roads are closed, signage everywhere, thousands of spectators, why the upset over a few bottles that can be easily picked up (if fans don't do so anyway)?

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

KiwiMike's picture

posted by KiwiMike [510 posts]
19th April 2013 - 11:23

4 Likes

Take the Cipo approach to disposal and launch them at Motorbike riders

posted by karlowen [65 posts]
19th April 2013 - 11:27

3 Likes

The ASO has said the authorities won't stop anyone racing. It'd kill world tour races in Belgium if they did

posted by atlaz [154 posts]
19th April 2013 - 11:56

2 Likes

…… had powered away from his fellow escapees as he crested the final climb, and upon entering the final 2k had a seemingly unassailable 40 second lead. However he hadn’t anticipated being stopped by a police officer with 250 metres to go and being made to pedal back down the course to put a carelessly discarded gel wrapper in the bin. He would eventually finish just off the podium in 4th.

posted by jarderich [84 posts]
19th April 2013 - 12:40

5 Likes

atlaz wrote:
The ASO has said the authorities won't stop anyone racing. It'd kill world tour races in Belgium if they did

Very tue, but if races lose public support because of littering they'll die anyway...

This has to be a good thing if implemented sensibly - nothing more infuriating that seeing country lanes littered with gel wrappers and inner tubes - hopefully cracking down on it at pro level will have some impression on the non-pro litterbugs.

posted by chris75018 [95 posts]
19th April 2013 - 13:06

3 Likes

Are you telling my 20 select riders cause more litter than the thousands of fans on the roadside watching the race?

Bidons is neither her nor there for me, empty ones at the time of a new pick up from the team car could be given back (also reducing the costs to the teams) or they will be picked up by fans. I know I got several in the mid 90's at the Leeds International Classic's!

General rubbish though could just be put back in jersey pockets, and passed to the team car at certain points, or as it seems to suggest, dropped during a specified area (hope its a good 5km from a feed station) with PSO staff allocated to clear up.

They seem to forget though, that the PSO are the race organiser, so surely the responsibility of the impact of the race lies with them? They make the money from the race by the teams being there, surely they should have cleaners to deal with it?

Strax

jdstrachan@yahoo.co.uk's picture

posted by jdstrachan@yaho... [53 posts]
19th April 2013 - 13:11

3 Likes

Sorry but all this is nonsense. I'll bet that even the well behaved and ecofriendly continental crowds leave much more lying around than the cyclists chuck away. Organisers can sweep up when the peloton has passed by as they would for say a marathon - or maybe you want marathon runners to carry their rubbish from the drink and feed stations to the finish line.

Alg

posted by alg [130 posts]
19th April 2013 - 13:41

4 Likes

jdstrachan@yahoo.co.uk wrote:
Are you telling my 20 select riders cause more litter than the thousands of fans on the roadside watching the race?

Usually in highly crowded areas dustbins or plastic sacks are provided, so fans can dispose their (mainly food related) rubbish. Which might not always work:
http://innercitymobility.blogspot.de/2012/07/tour-de-france-special-nois...

For the riders, how about a dumping zone? Before and after the feed zone. I think one french team introduced a small opening on the back of the jersey for gel wrappers. Applause

As cyclist, being a kind of greenish we should protect the environment. Unlike the car drivers who drop their Mc Donalds waste into the country side. Sad

posted by Dr. Ko [109 posts]
19th April 2013 - 13:44

5 Likes

' I think one french team introduced a small opening on the back of the jersey for gel wrappers'

Aye, they're called pockets.

posted by andyp [918 posts]
19th April 2013 - 16:06

3 Likes

It would be easy for riders to put gel wrappers in their back pockets. A tad more interesting to have domestiques collecting empties.

I'm sure the amount of rubbish left by the riders compared to the amount left by the spectators is very small.

Would it not be better for the environmental groups to be focusing their efforts in getting the fans to take their waste away with them (plus that of any passing cyclist) ?

Velotastic !

Too many hills, but too little time.

badback's picture

posted by badback [268 posts]
19th April 2013 - 16:30

3 Likes

Littering is disgraceful who ever does it, period.

posted by Nzlucas [91 posts]
19th April 2013 - 16:35

2 Likes

Whether they like it or not - pro riders are role models and should be seen to set an example.
It is arrogant and lazy the way they discard of stuff - as though it is their right to do so just because they are competing.
One of the joys of pro cycling is that it occurs on public roads. They should respect that fact - that they are *public* and not just their domain to do how they please.
Social norms (and litter laws) should be applied to pro cyclists as much as anyone else.
In my opinion.

posted by Some Fella [772 posts]
19th April 2013 - 16:37

1 Like

1st April? No, 19th April!

posted by Metjas [288 posts]
19th April 2013 - 16:59

1 Like

I'm a saint

I got so tired of a lane near us being covered on litter - with residents ignoring it and dog walkers stepping over it - that two weeks ago I went and cleared it all up. It took my 3 hours and I collected 5 bags of rubbish and a bag of recyclable Cans and bottles. I also found a set of number plates and some surgical gloves so it's obviously a gangster paradise...Very satisfying - both as an activity and the self-righteousness it gave me. Wink

Watching Triento stage 3 you see riders share a mini coke and then chuck the can away. Not good.

There are enough tossers in cars without adding tossers on bikes as well. Big Grin

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1060 posts]
19th April 2013 - 18:07

1 Like

andyp wrote:
' I think one french team introduced a small opening on the back of the jersey for gel wrappers'

Aye, they're called pockets.

It's the Saur-Sojasun team jersey (2011, I think) which had a small additional side pocket for empty wrappers.

At the recent Tour de Normandie a green 'Eco' jersey was awarded each day to the rider who is seen by the organisers to be the most ecologically friendly during the stage.

Team Sky don't reuse their bottles to avoid sickness bugs.

Bottles thrown away by riders may be collected by fans. However, most 'biodegradable' claims are greenwash. Degradable plastic just breaks up into smaller fragments in the soil that never go away. Fragments of plastic have also been found in the digestive systems of fish taken from the English Channel (here) while on the Pacific island of Midway a third of all albatross chicks die due to ingesting plastic items:
http://www.wired.com/rawfile/2012/08/albatross-midway-chris-jordan/
Criminal.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [1981 posts]
19th April 2013 - 21:26

1 Like

Tom Steels. There was a bidon chucker with attitude.

Although I agree that as members of the public we have a responsibility to keep the countryside we use clean, in a professional race the emphasis should rest largely with the organisers. Surely the amount of tat thrown from the caravan before the Tour must swamp any of the nutritional detritus that gets thrown by the 200 blokes peddling behind.

Why are just the top 30 involved? Coalition Nature are clearly just aiming for their 15 minutes of fame at the only time of year when anyone really cares about that bit of Belgium.

disclaimer: I've never been to Wallonia, and it's probably lovely. I'm just making a point.

posted by DonnyCampo [55 posts]
19th April 2013 - 21:27

3 Likes

Great to see Agenda 21 going strong.

493rd in GC Fantasy TdF 2014

posted by Sanderville [215 posts]
19th April 2013 - 23:35

1 Like

this is good, they should be banned for littering imo, theres no need for it.

posted by Karbon Kev [677 posts]
20th April 2013 - 8:41

3 Likes

KiwiMike wrote:
Sorry, but why doesn't the organiser just follow the peloton with a person to pick up the discarded ones? This is an extreme sporting event, not a sportive. The riders are refuelling and if they run out of places to put empty bottles, it's going to slow them down, surely? The roads are closed, signage everywhere, thousands of spectators, why the upset over a few bottles that can be easily picked up (if fans don't do so anyway)?

That's a poor argument. If a top class rider has the skill to hang onto a car at 40+mph, get stuff out of pockets etc then they clearly have the skill to put an empty wrapper back in a pocket. Try it yourself, it's not difficult and it won’t slow you down! Personally I'm sick of seeing riders (young and old) in reg A/B races chucking stuff on the roads of where I live just because they think 'they look like a pro'. It's pathetic and embarrassing to watch and inexcusable. It’s also just another excuse for local residents to complain about racing and get yet another road circuit closed. The pro ranks should clean up their act rather than have some slave clean up the roads – gullible amateurs copy their behaviour and they are the ones who ultimately spoil things.

posted by fatty [74 posts]
20th April 2013 - 8:50

3 Likes

Its easy when you stop at the boulangrie for your morning pastry just ask for it not to be wrapped then its just licking the crumbs and custard off your fingers when you have finished!!

Sorry not taking this seiously and I should littering is rearing it ugly head here in France (mostly beer tins and Mac D wrappers)

posted by sodit [69 posts]
20th April 2013 - 10:06

3 Likes

I am happy to see this. As others have said I am more OK with bidons because they will be picked up by fans, but gel wrappers and the like should be disposed of properly.
For those saying that the riders will not have the same impact as the crowds, try riding the route of a race a few hours or even a day after the peleton passes by. You will be able to follow the route just by following the gel wrappers, and in a lot of places it is obvious that there has been much greater impact from the riders than the crowds. I say it doesn't slow you down much to put that gel wrapper back in your pocket rather than just chucking it into some pristine wilderness...

I'm riding the 2013 Giro d'Italia for charity! Check it out and follow my progress live at www.tourletour.com

Tour Le Tour's picture

posted by Tour Le Tour [91 posts]
20th April 2013 - 12:50

1 Like

I seem to remember a couple of years ago in the TDF seeing a 'zone' where bidons could be disposed of but not outside. I think it was in a National Park or in the French version of a Area of Outstanding Beauty.
Is it too much to ask to have a zone every 20k or so where riders can dump all their stuff?

posted by Some Fella [772 posts]
20th April 2013 - 19:10

3 Likes

Concerned about littering? It's a crime in most, if not all, countries. I invite one and all to check out www.litterpreventionprogram.com and our News Reel that is updated daily. This is a website dedicated to the topics of litter and littering. Our goal is to lower the number of people who litter whether in cars, on foot, on bicycles, be it elite racing or just riding around the neighbourhood. Athletes are role models. They need to be mindful of their practices. In the Philippines last year, the winning rider was disqualified for littering during the race. Get all the news from around the world and sign up for our free newsletter - "This Week In Litterland".
www.litterpreventionprogram.com/news-reel.html

posted by Sheila White [1 posts]
21st April 2013 - 0:49

3 Likes