U23 riders in near-miss with train at Tour of Flanders

Race organiser angry at riders dodging closed train barriers

WorldTour riders weren't the only ones narrowly dodging fast-moving trains this weekend. At the U23 Tour of Flanders, some dropped riders rode through closed barriers, one crossing the tracks moments before a train hurtled through behind him.

Race organizer Jo Gosseye was shocked after seeing a video of the incident, and vowed to take action in the future. "A young rider should not be risking his life for 60th place," Gosseye said to Sporza.

"I only saw the images yesterday evening, and am shocked. I had to look ten times before I could believe it was in our race."

"Normally this can not happen. All Belgian races set high standards in terms of safety. There is always someone from the organization at every level crossing," Gosseye said.

"This level crossing is normally not a problem, but we included the Koppenberg in the edition of this year and it was raining a little bit. So a few riders got ten minutes behind the slowest schedule. For the leading group and the peloton there was no problem."

Gosseye said that rules prohibit riders from ignoring the closed crossings, but that the organisers could no longer disqualify them from the results. "It is now up to the Belgian Cycling Federation and the UCI to punish them."

Regardless of the outcome, Gosseye pleaded to riders to stop risking their lives by riding through closed level crossings. "Do not do it! Your life may depend on those four seconds," he emphasised. "Stop it, people. Do not do it. Look at what position you are in the race. A young rider risking his life for 60th place? How stupid is that?"

The Infrabel (Belgian Railways) spokesman Frédéric Petit was not as quick as his French counterpart to announce legal action against the athletes, but said they would investigate what went wrong. "I hope in any case that the images do not make an impression on some people, because that would be the wrong signal."

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