Romain Bardet has called on riders to show more respect to each other and avoided excessive risks in races after the mass pile-up at Liège-Bastogne-Liège that left a number of riders injured and world champion Julian Alaphilippe with a fractured shoulder blade, two fractured ribs, and a collapsed lung.
Bardet was lucky to avoid any serious consequences of the crash and sacrificed his own chances at Liège-Bastogne-Liège to clamber down into the trees to help Alaphilippe before the race paramedics arrived.
“I was very scared for Julian. I fell on the same side and I saw him three metres below me. He told me: 'I can't move, I can't move.' No one was coming,” Bardet told French radio channel RMC after the race.
“These are really scenes you don't want in cycling. I tried to call people, the cars were blocked, it took forever. It was only 4-5 minutes, but it was a really shocking scene. You don’t ride a bike to see guys on the ground like that.”
On Monday Bardet posted a message on social media, playing down his act of generosity towards Alaphilippe and giving further details of what he thought sparked the crash.
“It is still difficult to put into words what happened yesterday, there was devastation on people’s faces and injured bodies after that fall,” the French Team DSM rider wrote.
“I think of Julian, but also all the other guys who were badly hurt and who saw their lives flash in front of them, when at over 70km/h the roar of the pack gave way to chaos, to the sound of breaking equipment and screaming.
“I am very moved by all the reports, but I actually think anyone in that situation would have done the same – there is no rivalry when there is the danger of injury.”
As a leading French rider, Team DSM team leader and former Tour de France podium finisher, Bardet has the experience and authority to call for more respect and consideration amongst riders.
“The crash makes me think about our common responsibilities to prevent accidents like this, which could have ended tragically, and about the respect we have to show each other as riders,” he wrote.
“I saw everything as it happened. I was just behind Tom Pidcock and Jérémy Cabot when they collided. The responsibility you have when you take risks to get to the front can have serious consequences for the 100 guys behind you.
“I don't blame anyone, let alone have a monopoly on the truth. It's just that you put your heart and soul into a sport, have a passion for racing, but that can then turn tragic in a flash and damage the beauty of the sport.
“I wish every rider affected a speedy recovery."
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.
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