Lotto-Soudal director slams presence of bollards on road in Vuelta a Espana finale

Lotto-Soudal director Mario Aerts criticized organisers of the Vuelta a España for the presence of plastic bollards in the middle of the road which led to a crash of one of his riders late in stage 6.

Victor Campanaerts and others crashed when the peloton swept round a sharp right-hand bend in the town of La Union, and had to avoid a row of bollards situated in the centre of the road. The obstacle was protected by a large piece of bright yellow foam, but there were no signalmen at the hazard. Most of the peloton steered easily to the left of it, but Campenaerts appeared to clip the foam and then fall into the path of the peloton.

Campanaerts needed stitches in one elbow and Fabio Felline (Trek Segafredo) was also injured, although both riders completed the stage.

Aerts was critical of the presence of the bollards in the road, telling Cyclingnews it was "ridiculous."

"A final like that, in the middle of the road, after a corner, there were three poles. They [the peloton] could never have seen them when they exited."

He agreed that this was not the first time that such an incident relating to bollards had happened in the Vuelta. Two years ago, Steven Kruiswijk crashed out of the race in the first week after colliding with a metal pole which had not been removed from the side of the road.

"The [organisers] have to do a recon. I don't know for sure but I think plastic bollards are easy to remove." He did not confirm if he would make a formal protest, saying "first we have to evaluate."

Trek-Segafredo management told Eurosport afterwards that Felline's crash had been nasty but he could continue to race. "I told him 'go easy'," Yaroslav Popovych said, "but he wanted to continue. He had some road rash on the hips, and a bike hit him when he was on the ground, but now he's going to have a shower and he should be OK."

Popovych did not think the crash opened up a possible debate, again, about road safety saying "everyone knew there would cross-winds, there was tension in the peloton. There was danger but nothing special. When I passed there [where the crash happene], there was enough space, no problem."

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Alasdair Fotheringham

Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The IndependentThe GuardianProCycling, The Express and Reuters.