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.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.