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Chris Froome: A lot more needs to be done to make race routes safer

Chris Froome during the stage 5 time trial at the Tour de France
Chris Froome during the stage 5 time trial at the Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)

Chris Froome believes that "a lot more needs to be done" when it comes to route design, with the four-time Tour de France champion calling for the peloton to speak with a more collective voice. 

The issue of rider safety has been thrust back into the spotlight at a Tour de France so far littered with crashes, most notably on the run-in to Pontivy on stage 3. 

At the start of stage 4 the following morning, the peloton staged a protest, coming to a halt shortly after kilometre-zero before a go-slow of around 10 kilometres. 

"It's certainly part of ongoing dialogue process to make racing safer," Froome said of the protest on Wednesday. 

Froome, who is still suffering the effects of crashing on the opening day, joined many of his colleagues in taking issue with the narrow, twisting, and sometimes downhill roads on the run-in to the sprint finish on Monday, where sprint teams and general classification teams jostled for position. 

Many riders and teams had identified the potential hazards before the race, requesting timings to be neutralised with 5km to go, but that was rejected by the UCI, which also approved the route designed by the race organisers, as it does with all its certified races.

"I think a lot more needs to be done in terms of approval and sign-off of courses before they're submitted and allowed to go ahead. A lot of work needs to be done there," Froome said. 

"Some things are just obvious to a lot of teams and riders, in terms of route, pinch points... you can see an accident coming and everyone pushes to get to the front before that point, but pushing to the front causes accidents anyway. 

"It's a difficult one but with more typical sprint stages like yesterday [stage 4], well, there weren't any crashes yesterday, compared to the day before where everyone knew it was really tight, technical, and dangerous, and there were crashes left right and centre. Taking time to identify those points on the course and finding safe alternatives, is the way forward."

Froome has spoken out about safety issues in the past, and was a notable advocate of the recently launched Riders' Union, which is an alternative to the UCI-backed CPA, which has faced criticism in recent years.

"It's really difficult to get all the riders to unite but if we can at least, through the unions, have more of a collective voice, I believe we'll be a lot better represented and safety measures will be improved on."

Froome was speaking after completing his ride in the stage 5 time trial at the Tour de France. He has won against the clock at the Tour in the past but finished way off the pace on the 27km course in the Mayenne. 

Having come into the race short of his former form, following his recovery from his 2019 injuries, and having crashed again on the opening day, there was never any expectation to perform on Wednesday.

"I didn't go full gas there. I was just getting through today and looking to get to mountains ready to try and help my teammates," he said. 

"My main goal is to help my teammates win a stage. That's nothing new to me. Whenever I go to a race where I know I can't win myself, I happily help someone else. For years in my career I had people helping me and it's nice to give back a bit."

As for the effects of that opening-day crash, things are starting to look up, having appeared to be close to an exit when he lay on the tarmac on Saturday.

"I'm doing alright. I'm still quite bruised on my hip - I've got a big black hip - and on my chest, but I don't think I'm the only one in the peloton who's injured and feeling a bit stiff and store. But each day feels like it's getting better and better so hopefully it continues that way.

"Even though it's been really technical, dangerous racing, I'm loving being back at the Tour de France." 

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Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.