Groupama-FDJ manager Marc Madiot says that it's now time for independent safety experts to check and validate potential safety problems or issues ahead of major races following a string of incidents this season.
Referencing the helicopter incident on stage 4 of the Giro d'Italia on Tuesday – when the draft from the rotors of a RAI TV helicopter pushed some crowd barriers onto the course, causing Vini Zabù-Brado-KTM riders Luca Wackermann and Etienne van Empel to crash – as well as Deceuninck-QuickStep rider Fabio Jakobsen's crash after he hit a barrier on the downhill sprint finish to stage 1 of the Tour de Pologne in early August, Madiot was adamant that the moment had come to act.
"There are times when you simply have to face things head on: there's a problem with security at races, linked to mistakes by race organisers," Madiot said, speaking on the L'Equipe TV channel on Wednesday. "Saying that's not going to make me any friends, but it needs to be said. That's the reality."
The Frenchman called for what would be an independent inspection of safety measures already in place surrounding a race, as well as checks of any potential problems that could arise due to the nature of a race's route or its infrastructure.
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"It could be someone neutral, or a former rider, but it needs to be someone who can do it totally independently," Madiot said. "The security of the race must be validated independently of the organiser, especially at the larger events.
"I know I'm going to get some phone calls after this, but that's OK," he concluded.
In late August, cycling's governing body, the UCI, announced that it would be tightening safety checks, but reiterated that "safety remains the responsibility of the organisers", while suggesting that disciplinary procedures could be meted out to those organisers that don't respect the safety regulations.
"The safety of riders is a priority for the UCI, which considers this issue of the greatest importance," UCI president David Lapparitent said in a press release at the time. "We are aware of the riders' concerns over safety conditions as they go about their work and we are determined to take further steps to provide a strong and appropriate response."
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