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
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 *