De Panne organisers focus on safety after death of Demoitie

Race keeps motorbike number to around 25

Following the death of Belgian Antoine Demoitié due to injuries sustained when he was struck by a race motorcycle during Gent-Wevelgem, the organisers of the Three Days of De Panne (Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde) are taking extra measures to ensure the safety of riders in their race. The already limit the number of motorcycles following their race to about 25, but plan to have extra meetings with drivers to reiterate the safety rules.

Demoitié crashed with three other riders during Gent-Wevelgem, and was run into by the race motorcycle while on the ground. He died Sunday night from his injuries, aged 25. The tragedy has brought the issue of the dangers of mixing the racers with fast-moving vehicles to a head, with the riders' association, the CPA, reiterating its demand that more measures be put into place to enhance rider safety.

"We want as few motorcyclists in the race as possible," De Panne organiser Johan Van Hecke said to Sporza. "But in order to ensure the safety of the riders it is sometimes necessary that there are many motorcyclists in the race."

Van Hecke says his race limits the number of photographers to five or six, and with the police, two officials from the cycling federation and 15 or so signalers who move along the course to warn riders of obstacles they can only reduce the numbers so much.

"For several years we have only provided a minimum of mobile signalers," Van Hecke said." Instead, we opt for more stationary signalmen on the course."

The race will have extra meetings before the race to drive home the message that rider safety must be the top priority. "We're going to have a few extra meetings so that we can guarantee the safety of the riders. It is mainly down to the fact that the motorcyclists are not allowed to do dumb things and they need to keep themselves to the UCI rules." 

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