Trek-Segafredo's Bauke Mollema – currently in sixth place overall at the Giro d'Italia, 3:38 behind race leader Richard Carapaz (Movistar) – took to social media on Sunday evening to complain about the proximity of the TV motorbikes to the peloton during stage 15 between Ivrea and Como.
In solidarity with the efforts of the two breakaway riders – Mattia Cattaneo (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) and eventual stage winner Dario Cataldo (Astana) – Mollema tweeted that he was pleased to see the break stay away, but that it was in no thanks to the TV motorbikes and their closeness to the chasing peloton. He added that if they had been caught, then whoever won the stage from the bunch "should have sent some flowers" to Giro TV broadcaster Rai to thank them.
"All day [they were] only 10-30 metres in front of the bunch," Mollema wrote. "Really, [governing body] UCI? Is this a WorldTour race? Or don't they care about safety and fair play in Italy?"
In a further tweet, Mollema added that riders, teams and the riders' union, the CPA, had brought the issue up multiple times already.
"Nothing helps. What a joke," wrote the Dutchman.
While such 'assistance' has been a regular complaint from riders for as long as motorbikes have followed bike races, ferrying the likes of TV cameras, photographers, radio commentators and, ironically, race referees – while even TV helicopters have been accused of 'blowing' riders forwards, or indeed backwards – the CPA indeed made a more active move to tackle the problem just last week.
In an open letter, CPA president and former pro Gianni Bugno wrote that it was felt that the problem had become worse than ever.
"The competitive result must be as fair as possible," he said. "It cannot be compromised by encounters, which, even if for a few seconds, can affect the regular development of the event. The riders themselves are asking the motorcyclists, especially those from the TV, to stay at a greater distance from them, whether they are ahead or in pursuit.
"The technology we now have at our disposal allows excellent quality shots even at a greater distance than that what is, unfortunately, becoming habitual. We demand greater attention to this intolerable problem, which creates risks for the safety of the athletes, influences the development of the competitions and jeopardises the real value of the athletes," said Bugno, adding that the issue will also be formally addressed at a UCI Security Commission meeting in June.
Super happy to see the break making it too the finish today. If not, winner should have sent some flowers to RAI / TV motorbike. All day only 10-30 meters in front of the bunch. Really @UCI_cycling, is this a WorldTour race? Or they don't care about safety and fair play in Italy?— Bauke Mollema (@BaukeMollema) May 26, 2019