Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) has admitted that he is concerned about rider safety after the Paris terrorist attacks. The 35 year-old Australian confirmed that riders often think about safety as they race in front of thousands of people, often without barriers to hold back the crowds and protect the riders.
The Paris attacks and especially those at the Stade de France football stadium, highlighted the fact that sports events could become targets for terrorism attacks. Paris traditionally hosts the final stage of the Tour de France with huge crowds cheering the riders on the Champs Elysees circuit.
Rogers was one of many riders to post the peace and Eiffel tower logo on his Twitter time line.
"It's been in the back of my mind, events such as the Tour [de France], a big international event where the whole world is watching," Rogers told Fairfax Media in Australia.
"A lot of riders do think about it because we pass a lot of people by the side of the road and it's quite easy for a potential attack... Let's see, let's see, I think we have to take it step by step and we all have to understand that those possibilities are very difficult in cycling and it would absolutely kill the sport.
"I hope the authorities are doing work in the background making sure the course is clear, but it's certainly becoming an issue especially [after] this year in May one of the races in Germany was cancelled because authorities picked up on a potential attack."
The annual May Day Eschborn-Frankfurt –formally known as the Frankfurt Grand Prix - was cancelled after German police arrested a married couple who had allegedly planned an attack on the race. A suspected Islamist extremist and his wife were arrested by officers who found a bomb, a firearm, ammunition, and chemicals that could be used for explosives in their home, according to the Associated Press news agency. The Hesse police confirmed that the Eschborn-Frankfurt race had been cancelled due to “indications of a possible threat to the population,” with officials suggesting they stopped what could have been a ‘Boston Marathon-style terror attack’.
An estimated 12 million people watch the Tour de France from the road side each year. While Chris Froome alleged that urine was thrown at him during this year’s race, and fans are occasionally aggressive with riders, any kind of violence or crowd trouble is rare at races, with most fans there to cheer all the riders.
"We have quite a beautiful view from the peloton where we see so many smiling faces and that's a huge motivating factor for the riders as well," Rogers said. "If you go back to the UK stages [of the Tour de France] last year there were literally millions of people out there and they all had smiles on their faces, so it was a special moment for the riders."
Thinking about retirement
Rogers is about to begin preparing for his seventeenth season as a professional but confirmed it will be his last. After a long career that included spells at Mapei, Quickstep, T-Mobile, HTC, Team Sky and now Tinkoff-Saxo, he wants to pend more time with his Italian family.
Rogers will begin his 2016 season at the Tour Down Under and hopes to target the Rio Olympics despite tension with some parts of the Australian Cycling Federation after he tested positive for Clenbuterol following his victory at the 2013 Japan Cup. He lost that victory but avoided a ban after the UCI accepted that the presence of Clenbuterol may have resulted from the consumption of contaminated meat from China, where Rogers had raced.
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