Riders at the Tour of the Basque Country held a protest over safety ahead of today’s second stage of the race after a number of them collided with metal poles in the finishing straight, leaving several with broken bones.
Most seriously injured was BMC Racing’s Peter Stetina who broke his right tibia and patella and four ribs in the crash. Another casualty was Orica-GreenEdge’s Adam Yates, who broke a finger, an injury that could rule him out of the Ardennes Classics.
The crash happened around 400 metres from the end of the stage, which was won by Yates’s team mate, Michael Matthews. The only concession to safety appeared to be orange and white traffic cones placed on top of the green metal poles, each around a metre high.
"Some guys barely missed the poles and some clipped them," Stetina told the BMC Racing website. "I didn't even have time to react or pull the brakes. You don't expect to have fixed obstacles in the middle of a field sprint."
The team’s chief medical officer, Dr. Max Testa, said that usually such injuries would result in a rider needing several months to recover.
"The Amgen Tour of California was my big goal and my GC (general classification) race this year," added Stetina.
"Now it is almost for sure out the window."
Etixx-Quick Step communciations manager Alessandro Tegner tweeted a picture of today’s start-line protest.
— Alessandro Tegner (@AleTegner) April 7, 2015
The safety of riders was in the spotlight this weekend following two separate incidents at the Tour of Flanders involving a Shimano neutral service car that led to two riders – Trek Factory Racing’s Jesse Sergent and FDJ.fr’s Sebastien Chavanel being forced out of the race – the latter when his team car was shunted into him.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.