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Tour Féminin des Pyrénées stopped amidst rider safety issues

After riders' protest against oncoming traffic and parked cars, the UCI has scrapped the final stage of the three-day women's stage race...

After two days of safety concerns for the peloton due to oncoming traffic, parked cars and trucks blocking roads, hazardous motorbikes, and spectators wandering on the roads, rider protests calling for better measures have resulted in the UCI calling off the CIC-Tour Féminin International des Pyrénées in its final stage.

After overnight negotiations with the UCI led by Adam Hansen, president of the Cyclistes Professionnels Associés (CPA), the cycling governing body has announced that the race in the Iberian mountains won't continue.

The UCI's official communications account tweeted this morning: "To maintain the safety of the riders, the UCI has taken the decision to stop #TourPyrenees. After consulting with key stakeholders of the event, including CPA Women, CPA, Adam Hansen, teams, commissaires, and the organising committee, today’s stage will not go ahead."

> "What a mess": Chaos as live traffic passes metres from racing peloton at Tour Féminin des Pyrénées

The CPA has also released a statement, written by Adam Hansen: "During the first stage of the CIC-Tour Féminin International des Pyrénées, the safety conditions were deemed highly dangerous due to the excessive presence of cars on the road, some even driving towards the riders. This created a significant panic among the women cyclists and caused a media storm, which has had a negative impact on the image of women's racing.

"Assurances were given that stage two would be managed more effectively to ensure the safety of the women cyclists. We informed the women that, after the initial 24km neutral zone, they had the authority to collectively decide whether to proceed with the race based on their assessment of safety. This decision was left in their hands."

> "Disgrace": Pro riders rip into UCI over "unacceptable" speed bump sprint crash

When the decision went to a vote to the teams, Hansen revealed that 17 teams expressed their concern about the race being too dangerous to continue, while seven teams were in favour of continuing.

The team managers also voted on the matter, with nine managers deeming it too dangerous to race and nine in favour of continuing.

Hansen also said that he spoke to one of the team managers who had spoken to the organisers, who confirmed that the race would continue 100%, even if only three teams decided to participate.

He said: "I engaged in a discussion with the organiser in an effort to reach a conclusion that would ensure a safe race. I was insisted that stage two was executed like any other normal race and that all my thinking was incorrect and also the riders of the race."

"Considering the safety risks involved, we firmly believe that a bike race is not worth endangering the lives of the female cyclists. Therefore, we stand in support of the decision made by the women to discontinue the race, and we believe the race results should remain as they are, including UCI points, ensuring that the women are duly recognised and rewarded for their efforts."

> UCI pledges to improve rider safety after high-profile crashes

The race began on Friday and the opening stage was tainted by a plethora of dangerous incidents. In the final 3km in Lourdes, Cecilie Uttrup-Ludwig had a near miss as she was attacking as a driver managed to get onto the course. Parked cars and trucks, narrow roads, and meandering spectators peppered the last kilometre before the sprint opened up.

On Saturday, the peloton staged a protest, with at least three neutralisations of the race that effectively reduced stage 2 to a hill climb up Hautacam. After riding the first 25km as neutralised, the riders cycled for 28km before coming to a stop again.

After a discussion with officials, Cordon-Ragot (Human Powered Health) addressed the peloton to say riders would proceed in another neutral procession to the foot of the finish climb and race from there. The race commissioners were noted as saying: "Safety was met throughout the route" and "It was decided to resume noting that if they did not continue it would count as abandonment".

> Pro cyclist calls for better race direction after 90% of the peloton crashed at Tour de Bretagne

However, Eurosport/GCN cameras caught sight of a rider signalling a stray car parked on the course as the peloton sped through a populated area with 21.2km to go. 

Team Jumbo-Visma was one of the teams which voted against the race from going ahead. The Belgian team released a statement: "The situation on day two was significantly better than during the first stage, but safety is a condition within [the team] to be able to practice the sport in a responsible way. The riders do not consider it responsible to ride the third stage."

People on social media have expressed their disbelief at the situation. A former Australian road race champion and Olympian said: "This is an insane situation at the #TourPyrenees - it’s reassuring that the riders are able to have their voice represented enough that the craziness doesn’t continue - but it’s a sad situation for a race that all teams wanted to be successful."

This marks another incident in a growing series of concerning events of riders facing serious danger when racing in the peloton at the highest level. Last month reported that a pro cyclist criticised the race direction for not caring about riders as 90 per cent of the peloton crashed out on a muddy road, with the race director claiming after the crash that he didn't "regret" not neutralising the race as they approached the muddy section at 60km/hr.

> “I just didn't feel safe in cycling anymore” – Tony Martin opens up on why he’s retired

Earlier this year, organisers at both Paris-Nice and Milan-Sanremo were once again piled on by riders, fans and pundits, for not having proper signage to caution cyclists at high-speed, leading to crashes at both events.

And again at the final stage of Paris-Nice, as cyclists were making their way down a descent, a car suddenly appeared out of a corner from the opposite direction, with riders being forced to somehow evade it. Eurosport commentator Rob Hatch called on race organisers to do more to stop these mishaps from happening.

"Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear,” said Hatch. “Now how on earth has that happened? I’m angry seeing things like that in a pro race."

"That is dangerous. That could have been an absolute nightmare. Organisers really need to get a grip. Seen that a few times in the last few weeks, cars on the road. Disastrous.”

Adwitiya joined in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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Rendel Harris | 10 months ago
1 like

Quite a statement from the race director, Pascal Boudrain, in La Nouvelle Republique des Pyrenees:


 "Ce qui se passe, c’est que les filles ont des exigences qui ne sont pas en adéquation avec leur niveau. Elles s’imaginent qu’elles sont sur le Tour de France et que toutes les routes doivent être fermées, que tout doit être verrouillé."

Which, roughly translated (forgive errors), means: "What's happened is that these girls want a level of organisation that is way above their status. They think they're in the Tour de France and that all the roads should be closed, that everything should be locked down for them."

If I were one of the "girls" I don't think I'd be too happy about my safety being entrusted to somebody with that sort of attitude.

Awavey replied to Rendel Harris | 10 months ago

on the "girls" aspect, and there were alot of young riders in this race, I think thats just a lost in French translation thing, listen here to specifically how Audrey Cordon Ragot addressed the assembled riders at the stage 2 stoppage

that doesnt let him, or the other two race directors, off the hook for what he's then saying about the level of road closures required to run the race, I doubt they expected or wanted TdF levels of lockdown, but they are pro riders who do expect to race on roads and not have to dodge buses, trucks, tractors and cars moving towards them.

coincidentally they was a cycling sportive held around Lourdes yesterday that used the same finishing circuit as stage 1 of the race, the road was closed to all traffic, all parked vehicles were removed from the route,or simply stopped from parking there in the first place, and there were marshalls and police on every junction.

and you literally cant make this up, the ad strap line for the sportive was "Be a Pro for a day"


Xenophon2 replied to Awavey | 10 months ago

No.  I'm a native FR speaker.  The reference to 'les filles' is disparaging.  Literally it means 'the girls' and I'm sure that post factum he's able to clobber together an 'innocent' explanation but the underlying meaning is 'those female nitwits'.  

I'm in Belgium and during the summer many local cycling events are orgnised, with volunteers blocking traffic at every junction on approach/passing of the peloton.  That's not on pro level, btw.  If they're serious about female cycling, they should get their act together.  But being the UCI and considering that there's not a lot of money to be made out of this, it's clear where the priorities lie.

Awavey replied to Xenophon2 | 10 months ago

so was Audrey equally being disparaging then to the group ? as I dont get how we can say no doubt ah but its the context of how its said not what is said, when weve not got the context of how it was said, its just some print in a local paper article, translated by google.

I dont dispute he clearly thinks the riders were being childish & immature, as its the reported way he then describes them, and in that context calling them mere "girls" its clearly more consistent line of he hasnt got much respect for them, but in a gender reversed similar situation, would he use "garcons" instead of "hommes", we dont know.

Awavey replied to Awavey | 10 months ago

so heres an interview with Audrey Cordon Ragot in Ouest France, a daily french regional newspaper, and I specifically draw your attention to this particular quote from the interview "Les filles ont voulu s’arrêter", the "girls" wanted to stop.

muhasib | 10 months ago

Must be an interesting discussion going on in the 2 teams who didn't wish to continue despite their team managers voting in favour of completing the race.

Awavey replied to muhasib | 10 months ago

there were 24 teams in total, so 6  team managers actually had no opinion or abstained. I dont know that discussion would be that complicated, and Id take an educated guess on at least identifying one of teams.

But the team managers want to race to get points, which for the lower ranked WTW or conti teams trying to get to WTW is very important for their survival, the riders probably recognise that, but werent comfortable with the risks being presented, so voted the other way, but I suspect would have still raced had the UCI not canned it for them.

miekwidnes replied to Awavey | 10 months ago

I think the fact that this was a race for women is important

not because they are women and need to be protected more


but simply because I doubt that this would ever happen to this extent for a mens pro race


You have to suspect that less  effort (or expense??) was put into it because the women's race series doesn;t matter as much in their eyes???

Awavey replied to miekwidnes | 10 months ago

its difficult to say with certainty IMO, because its not totally clear to me just observing from afar, how these issues manifested the way they did.

the greatest irony being two of the race directors are both former pro women cyclists and currently I believe directors of the AFCC, which is the French women's cycling union, which is part of the Women's Cpa, youd have thought there'd be no question on effort to make it a safe race.

MattieKempy replied to miekwidnes | 10 months ago
miekwidnes wrote:

I think the fact that this was a race for women is important . . . simply because I doubt that this would ever happen to this extent for a mens pro race

That is a very relevant point.

MattieKempy | 10 months ago

Adam Hansen's statement is bang on the money in terms of putting rider safety over everything else, but I don't understand why it's necessary to keep highlighting the fact that the cyclists in question are women. That makes it feel like the riders were making a bigger deal of safety because they're women. Their gender is immaterial, surely? Having watched Stage 2, which was marred by a number of cars on course, several still moving toward the peloton as it approached them, with un-marshalled slip roads letting onto the parcours, one of which had a car moving up it to within 5m of the peloton, and with umarshalled traffic islands which caused crashes, any cyclist male, female or other would have protested about the safety issues! Gender doesn't come into safety, so why keep referring to it?

Awavey replied to MattieKempy | 10 months ago
1 like

he's apologised for way the letter reads like that, he said he was trying to be respectful, and I trust him on that, he's been working hard behind the scenes to get this sorted properly and try and mediate with all the riders, the teams and race organisation all thru the evening/morning,so I can forgive the clunky way its written.

as he's been dealing with a race director who has since the race cancellation labelled the riders spoiled children and as the CPA letter says saw no issues with what was happening, despite the numerous examples that can be shown of vehicles driving & moving towards the peloton without warning, which shows the attitudes towards safety he was having to deal with.


MattieKempy replied to Awavey | 10 months ago
Awavey wrote:

he's apologised for way the letter reads like that

Hadn't seen the apology - thanks for the heads up.

Brauchsel replied to MattieKempy | 10 months ago

It read oddly to me too, but then I thought it might have been translated via a language with a more pervasive grammatical gender. If that's how Adam Hansen speaks/writes in his native language, that's a bit bemusing. 

Awavey replied to Brauchsel | 10 months ago

its something they had to put together quite quickly after alot of time spent in discussions with teams, riders, UCI, union reps, organisers etc etc and when it was clear the organisers werent going to reach an agreement they were happy with, I think we can forgive them for its clunkiness of language and not be the grammar police on it, the overall message its presenting is clear enough.

but there were riders, and spectators, at the signing on point literally unsure of whether they were or were not going racing 30mins before they due to start.

Brauchsel replied to Awavey | 10 months ago

Yeah, I wasn't meaning to be a grammar/prose pedant there. Just that it seems weird and unnatural for a native English speaker writing in English who isn't Andrew Tate to keep saying "female" like that. 

These things happen though, and it's all vastly better than the quote Rendel has posted above which seems to boil down to "stupid little girls, expecting their safety to be as important as the men's! Tsk."

AidanR replied to MattieKempy | 10 months ago
1 like

I was thinking just the same. If the same had happened in a men's race, the words "men" and "make" wouldn't have featured.

I'm sure he didn't mean anything by it, but that's almost worse. It shows that the default view is that cyclists are men.

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