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Giro d'Italia organisers scrap plans for Best Descender competition after backlash

Initiative had been widely criticised on safety grounds, with UCI calling it an "unacceptable idea"...

Organisers of the Giro d'Italia have scrapped plans to introduce a competition for the best descender at this year's 100th edition of the race after the initiative was critcised on social media, with riders, team managers and fans concerned it would lead to unnecessary risks being taken.

Details of the competition, which would have been sponsored by the tyre company Pirelli, were contained in the regulations for this year's race and were spotted on Monday by blogger Inner Ring.

> Giro d'Italia introduces Best Descender contest - but will it encourage riders to take too many risks?

Riders were to have been timed on 10 descents throughout the three-week race, with points awarded to the fastest five on each downhill section.

A prize of f €500 would have been awarded to the fastest descender on each of the 10 stages in question.

Points awarded throughout the race would also have counted towards a best descender classification, with the winner  taking €5,000, the runner-up €3,000 and the third placed man €2,000. 

Many of those who criticised the initiative pointed out that Leopard Trek rider Wouter Weylandt died when he crashed during a descent in the 2011 edition of the race.

Others highlighted the death last week of the American rider Chad Young of the Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team, who died last week from injuries sustained when he crashed on a descent while racing at the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico.

And yesterday, Belgian cycling federation president Tom Van Damme, who is also president of the UCI's race commission, said that awarding the prize was an "unacceptable idea" and that he had"asked to forbid this immediately."

> UCI official: Giro d'Italia Best Descender contest an "unacceptable idea"

Other than the mention of the prize in the race regulations, Giro d'Italia organisers RCS Sport had not made any announcement about the prize, but in a press release today, the text of which appears below, they confirmed that the initiative had been scrapped.

Regarding the discussion generated by the introduction of the best downhill rider prize at the Giro d'Italia the race direction, in conjunction with the sponsor, has made the following statement:

The spirit of the initiative was to highlight an important skill which is an integral part of a cycle race without putting the riders' safety in jeopardy. Rider safety is, and remains, the priority of the Giro and the race organisers.

Comments have been made suggesting that this initiative could be potentially misunderstood and generate behaviours not in line with the safety principle. The race organisers have taken these comments on board and change an initiative that could be misinterpreted.

Therefore the race organisers have decided to eliminate all such classification and prize money as per the race regulations, leaving the timekeeping of the descents purely as statistical data for the fans.

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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Yorkshire wallet | 7 years ago

Best racist comment award now planned....

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