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Michael Rogers fears cycling's accessibility could leave it open to terrorist attack

11-time Tour de France rider speaks out after Paris massacre

Former world time trial champion Michael Rogers fears cycling races such as the Tour de France could be vulnerable to terrorist attacks following the tragic events in Paris on Friday.

So far, 129 people are confirmed as having been killed in a series of co-ordinated attacks in the French capital on Friday evening.

Besides attacks on the Bataclan Theatre and bars and restaurants in the east of the city, the Stade de France in St-Denis, where France were playing Germany at football in a friendly international, was also targeted.

Tinkoff-Saxo rider Rogers says that cycling’s unique accessibility, which puts spectators much closer to the action than in perhaps any other sport, may leave it vulnerable.

But he also said that given the distance of stages of events such as the Tour de France, it is impossible for race organisers to cordon off the route.

He told the Sydney Morning Herald: "You could only imagine the expense for the organisers to barrier the whole circuit for hundreds of kilometres, I don't think that's a feasible thing to do," Rogers told the newspaper.

"Let's see, let's see, I think we have to take it step by step and we all have to understand that those possibilities are very difficult in cycling and it would absolutely kill the sport."

Earlier this year, one of the biggest one-day bike races in Germany was cancelled amid concerns it was being targeted by terrorists.

- Terror plot forces cancellation of major German May Day race

Rogers, who has ridden the Tour de France 11 times and is a triple world time trial champion, said: "It's been in the back of my mind, events such as the Tour, a big international event where the whole world is watching.

"A lot of riders do think about it because we pass a lot of people by the side of the road and it's quite easy for a potential attack.

"I hope the authorities are doing work in the background making sure the course is clear, but it's certainly becoming an issue especially [when] this year in May one of the races in Germany was cancelled because authorities picked up on a potential attack."

He added, however, that the proximity of fans to riders is one of the things he loves about cycling.

"We have quite a beautiful view from the peloton where we see so many smiling faces and that's a huge motivating factor for the riders as well," he explained.

"If you go back to the UK stages [in the Yorkshire Grand Depart of the Tour de France] last year there were literally millions of people out there and they all had smiles on their face, so it was a special moment for the riders," he added.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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Mungecrundle | 8 years ago
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ISIS have a very clear agenda of causing mass casualties in as high a profile way as possible. They understand that the attrocities they perform have the power to motivate those sympathetic to their cause and to strike fear into those who would oppose. They have demonstrated their skills both behind the camera and in distributing the footage time and again.

Not only have they proved succesful in training, equipping and infiltrating terrorist cells into Europe but they have also been succesful in targetting unstable / vulnerable individuals to carry out so called 'lone wolf' attacks. They are capable of both directed / coordinated attacks but because their targets are generally the civilian population they are also more than happy to take credit for the more random carnage of those lone wolves.

Events like Le Tour are exceedingly vulnerable to disruption, really all it would take is a single gunman stepping out and firing just a single round. It would be televised live in front of the World and effectively bring the whole event to a stop. It need not even be a bullet, the easy proximity of vehicles, backpacks, picnic boxes, BBQs etc and the uncontrolled movement of people just a few feet from the participants make any number of horrific scenarios and methodologies possible.

Don't get me wrong, I hate the idea that mass gatherings of regular people out to enjoy an event, be it sporting, a concert, a meal out, a political rally or whatever feel prevented from doing so by the threat of terrorism. However I can really sympathise with Tour riders who are concerned. I don't have an answer, but I do know the answer is definitely not to dismiss those fears as groundless.

Airzound | 8 years ago
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He's just echoing the fear that many have who take part in sporting events or any large event or indeed anyone who goes out of an evening in London, Paris, Madrid, where ever.


The biggest threat to road races are idiots who chuck piss on riders or who scatter tacks on the road before the peloton rides through.

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