BMC Racing manager Jim Ochowicz repeated his demands for the UCI to take action to ensure rider safety following two incidents this weekend where race motorcycles caused crashes - Stig Broeckx (Lotto Soudal) was clipped by a medical motorcycle in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, and in La Drôme Classic in France BMC's Danilo Wyss crashed after a motorcycle impeded riders by stopping in the exit of a corner. Wyss escaped injury, but Broeckx suffered a broken collarbone and ribs in his crash.
Ochowicz was livid last summer after BMC's Greg Van Avermaet was taken down by a TV motorcycle in the last kilometre of the Clasica San Sebastian, threatening legal action for what he called an act of "pure negligence".
"The UCI has been nowhere in this to resolve the problem. This comes back to safety issues in races where the local organizer of WorldTour events and the UCI are negligent in providing a safe racing environment," Ochowicz wrote in September.
Ochowicz said the UCI needed to show courage in dealing with rider safety issues, calling on the governing body to reconsider the size of the peloton.
After the incident with Wyss, he repeated his cry to the UCI. "On September 1, 2015, less than one year ago, I wrote a similar letter after an alarming number of crashes involving vehicles had taken place in the peloton since the beginning of the 2015 season. Despite my reaching out for help at that time, the problem became even more prominent as the season went on and we watched in disbelief. Now here I am again asking the powers to be to take notice," Ochowicz wrote today.
There have been a number of disturbing crashes caused by race vehicles in recent years. A France TV car caused a crash with Johnny Hoogerland Juan Antonio Flecha in the 2011 Tour de France. Taylor Phinney's career was nearly ended when a stopped motorcycle on a descent caused him to crash, resulting in a compound fracture to his leg in the US championships in 2014. Peter Sagan and teammate Sergio Paulinho were each taken down by motorcycles in the Vuelta a España last year, Jesse Sergent was crashed by a passing Shimano neutral support car in the Tour of Flanders and Jakob Fuglsang was taken out by a motorbike in the Tour de France.
Ochowicz called the current environment for riders "disgraceful".
"The riders deserve far more respect than what they are receiving from those who are responsible for protecting their safety. We all understand that there exists an element of danger in the sport of cycling from a number of places and conditions but no rider expects to be run down from behind by an over-enthusiastic pilot on a closed race course.
"This has got to stop before the headlines in the future are of a more disturbing nature than what we have seen in 2015 and now again in 2016. To the UCI, I am turning to you for answers and solutions."
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