Groupama-FDJ team manager Marc Madiot has made an impassioned plea for cycling to find a solution to the type of chaotic, crash-ridden finales that fans worldwide witnessed at the end of stage 3 of the 2021 Tour de France, or, he warned, “there will be deaths.”
The manager of one of France’s most long-standing teams, Groupama-FDJ, a vice-president of the French National League of Cycling, which oversees the French professional racing scene, and never afraid of airing his views in a career which started off as a racer in the late 1970s, Madiot told French TV, “this isn’t bike racing any more.”
He added that if changes were not made, it would lead parents to stop wanting their children to be bike racers and “we cannot continue like that.”
Madiot did not blame one part of the sport specifically, rather he argued nearly every part of the cycling community had their share of responsibility. The consequences, in any case, he argued, were dire.
On Monday, apart from numerous riders facing injuries, Jack Haig (Bahrain-Victorious) and Robert Gesink (Jumbo-Visma) both had to abandon, while Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) later quit the race with a broken collarbone. On Saturday, one of his own riders, Ignatus Konovalovas (Groupama-FDJ) also quit the race with concussion after crashing and losing consciousness.
“Quite apart from my own riders,” Madiot told French TV, “I’m a father of a family, and many fathers watch the Tour, so do mothers and their children, and right now I could understand if those parents didn’t want their children to be professional cyclists.
“We’ve been talking about this for years, and we need to find solutions, we can’t just go on like that. With a corner like that at 150 metres, what kind of condition is Caleb Ewan” – who fell after clashing with Peter Sagan almost within sight of the line – “after that?”
Madiot argued that there were numerous possible options when it came to trying to change the sport that should be considered, ranging from equipment to race radios – which Madiot has opposed in the past – to training programs, and that he did not know which was the best or most necessary solution.
“But we have to do something or otherwise there will end up being deaths," he warned, "And I don’t want to have to call up one of my rider’s families to tell them what has happened. This can’t go on. It’s not bike racing.”
Madiot’s hitting the alarm button with such force was not, he said, with the aim of pointing the finger at one particular element of the overall problem. Rather, he said, it was a collective question and one which had to be answered collectively.
“It’s not just the route, it’s not just the organisers’ fault, it’s also the riders, and our international authorities which do not run the sport and who do not pay attention to what former riders have to say.”
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 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. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
Thank you for signing up to Cycling News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.