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Rider thrown out of Tour of Flanders for tossing water bottle towards fan says being given one as a kid inspired him to become pro cyclist

“Back home that bottle was reminding me every day of what my dream was,” says Michael Schär

Michael Schär, the rider thrown out of the Tour of Flanders yesterday for tossing a water bottle towards a roadside spectator, says it was being given one on a trip to watch the Tour de France as a child that helped inspire him to become a professional cyclist.

The AG2R Citroën rider was chasing back after two bike changes when TV pictures showed him throwing the bidon towards a group of people on a corner, apparently realising straight away that in doing so he was in contravention of new UCI rules against littering.

The new rules which came into effect on Thursday 1 April mean that items such as water bottle and gel wrappers can only be jettisoned in designated litter zones.

Sanctions that can be imposed by the race jury include the rider being disqualified from the race, as happened to Schär, being docked UCI world ranking points, or having a time penalty imposed.

The 34 year old Swiss rider took to Instagram this morning to recount in a post headed “Dear UCI – whay kids start cycling” how on a family trip to see the 1997 Tour de France, when he would have been aged 10, he was inspired to pursue a career as a pro cyclist.

“I remember it as it was yesterday,” he wrote. “My parents drove my sister and me to the 1997 Tour de France in the Jura. We drove to the parcours and waited there for hours in the middle of the crowds. Finally the publicity caravan arrived and we all [caught] some treats.

“Later the first police motos arrived and the helicopter was hovering [above] us. Exactly this electrifying atmosphere of the bunch approaching us was for me life changing. I was endlessly impressed by the speed and ease these riders could ride their bikes. I wanted nothing else in my life anymore than becoming a pro cyclist myself. From this moment on I was driven by a dream.

“On top of that impression I received a bottle from a Pro,” he continued. “This little plastic piece made my cycling addiction complete. Back home that bottle was reminding me every day of what my dream was. I rode my yellow Team Polti bottle every day in full pride. Every day.”

Schär continued: “Now I am one of these Pros who race through all of the happy spectators. During calm moments of the race I always keep my empty bottle until I see some kids next to the road. Then I throw them gently right where they can catch it safely. Two years ago I gave a bottle to a girl next to the road. Her parents told me the girl wasn’t only happy about this bottle for a day. No, she still talks about this bottle. And maybe one day she becomes a cyclist as well.

“These are moments why I love our sport,” he added. “Nobody ever can take that away from us. We are the most approachable sport who gives bottles along the way. Simple as that. Simple is Cycling.”

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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