French railway seeks investigation of “irresponsible” Paris-Roubaix riders

The SNCF, French state railway company, has asked French police and prosecutors to investigate the episode in Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix when riders went through a railway crossing.

According to the AFP news agency, the last of the riders involved crossed only eight seconds before the high-speed TGV train came through.

"Several riders deliberately, and against all safety rules, crossed a closed safety barrier," said a SNCF statement. “Millions of television viewers saw live this extremely grave and irresponsible action which could have been tragic.”

As the peloton approached the crossing, the barriers began falling. Riders rode on through, around and under the barriers. AFP reports that one rider was hit by a closing barrier, and that eventual winner John Degenkolb was amongst those who went through.

Race organizers declined to penalize the riders, saying they would not have been able to stop in time. A motorcycle policeman held back the rest of the group, which was only about 20 riders. The race was subsequently neutralized for a short spell to allow the group to get back together.

Rules state that riders who go through a closed crossing are to be disqualified, but race director Thierry Gouvenou said “this time, that would have been unjust in respect of those riders who weren't identified."

The SNCF does not name any individual riders, “but leaves it up to investigators to determine how it happened and who was responsible,” the AP reported.

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