Tour de France round-up: Troops to guard level crossings, plus Stage 3 crash videos

Also, MPCC confirms Astana's membership temporarily suspended due to Lars Boom starting race...

With the Tour de France crossing into its home country today, riders will need to think twice about nipping across a level crossing if a train is approaching – they will be manned by troops, and anyone ignoring warnings will be thrown out of the race.

Also in this round-up, a couple of videos from yesterday’s Stage 3, marred by a huge crash, plus Astana has been temporarily suspended by the MPCC pending a meeting of the voluntary organisation’s board.

Orica-GreenEdge count cost of crash

Orica-GreenEdge came off worst in yesterday’s big pile-up on Stage 3 to Mur de Huy, with Simon Gerrans abandoning with a broken wrist and Daryl Impey out with a broken collarbone following that big crash with a little more than 50 kilometres to go.

We showed you the team mechanic’s view of the aftermath of that stack, which also involved Michael Matthews, yesterday evening – here’s the team’s Backstage Pass video of yesterday’s racing, which also includes in-car and on-bike footage.

On-bike footage from Stage 3

There’s another view of the carnage caused by the crash about 1 minute 10 seconds into this Velon video of on-bike footage from the stage, shot from the mount of a rider off the back of the peloton.

He seems to slow to check none of his team mates are involved, and subsequently you can see one a commissaire in one of the race’s red official cars signal to the riders to slow down as the stage was temporarily neutralised.

You can also see the obvious discomfort race leader Fabian Cancellara was in – he finished the stage, but abandoned yesterday evening due to fracturing two vertebrae.

MPCC temporarily suspends Astana’s membership

The Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC), the voluntary organisation whose member teams commit to adhering to a set of internal rules that in many cases are more rigorous than those required by the UCI, confirmed yesterday that it has temporarily suspended the membership of Astana.

The Kazakh team let Lars Boom – the Dutch rider who had featured heavily in the publicity for this year’s Grand Depart – to take to Saturday’s start in Utrecht despite the rider having returned low cortisol levels in a pre-race check, which under MPCC rules should have seen him withdrawn by his team from the race on health grounds.

The MPCC said in a statement:

In the wake of the choice of Astana to allow Lars Boom to take the start of the Tour de France and thus not to respect the article 9 of the MPCC’s rules, unanimously the board of directors of MPCC take cognizance of this decision and temporarily suspend Team Astana of its movement, waiting for the next meeting of the board of directors according to its statute.

In virtue of this decision, team Astana will no longer be subject to the unscheduled cortisol levels controls conducted by MPCC from this day on.

We shall remind that cortisol levels controls are part of the health protection of the rider, because a collapse cortisol level can have serious consequences for the high-level athlete. Since 2009, more than 1 400 cortisol levels controls have been conducted on the riders belonging to teams’ members of MPCC.

During this period, only 8 deductions were displaying abnormal low cortisol levels.

French troops to man level crossings – riders ignoring them could be thrown off race

Following the controversy at Paris-Roubaix in April when a number of riders ignored level crossing barriers to nip across a railway line as a train approached, French armed forces will be manning them in France during this year’s race.

According to a statement from the Ministry of the Interior, ASO and SNCF, any rider ignoring signs and instructions to stop will be thrown out of the race, reports RFI.

The statement, released yesterday, said: "On national territory, a representative of the organisers and a Republican Guard will be posted at each level crossing ... and ensure the rules for crossing at that particular point."

Simon has been news editor at 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.

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