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Threats to Groenewegen unacceptable, says CPA boss Bugno

KATOWICE POLAND AUGUST 05 Sprint Arrival Dylan Groenewegen of The Netherlands and Team Jumbo Visma Fabio Jakobsen of The Netherlands and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Marc Sarreau of France and Team Groupama FDJ Ryan Gibbons of South Africa and NTT Pro Cycling Team Moreno Hofland of The Netherlands and Team EF Education First during the 77th Tour of Poland 2020 Stage 1 a 1958km stage from Silesian StadiumChorzw to SpodekKatowice TourdePologne tdp20 on August 05 2020 in Katowice Poland Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
Dylan Groenewegen and Fabio Jakobsen crashing on stage 1 of the Tour de Pologne (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Gianni Bugno, the president of the CPA riders association, has described the death threats made against Dylan Groenewegen following the Tour de Pologne crash as "inadmissible, unworthy and indecent", arguing that the "dangerous barriers" determined the severity of the fall and left Fabio Jakobsen with serious facial injuries.

Groenewegen revealed he was given police protection amid a wave of hate mail and even death threats following the incident. In a recent interview with Dutch magazine Helden, the Jumbo-Visma sprinter recounted how one package delivered to his home contained a noose for him and his partner to hang their newborn child. 

Groenewegen, who sparked the crash when he deviated from his line on the high-speed downhill finish in Katowice in August, was handed a landmark nine-month ban by the UCI in November. He was quick to express his contrition but has now, with Jakobsen back on the bike and making a good recovery, revealed the extent of the backlash. 

Bugno and the CPA have intensified their fight for improved safety standards, with some new rules for roadside barriers and finish areas likely to be introduced during the 2021 season.

"I read the threats received by Dylan Groenewegen after the incident at the Tour de Pologne and got from the press that he was placed under police protection who feared the worst for him and his family," Bugno said in a CPA statement.

"What happened is inadmissible, unworthy and indecent. Words and actions have weight and those that have been addressed to this guy are unacceptable."

Bugno called for the Tour de Pologne organisers to also face sanctions.  

"The finger must be pointed at the dangerous barriers that determined the severity of the fall in which Fabio Jakobsen suffered the most serious consequences," he said. 

"Dylan made a mistake in the race that he paid dearly - indeed today he is the only one to have paid for what happened at the finish line in Katowice. 

"The CPA has urged the UCI over and over again for exemplary sanctions for organizers who have demonstrated an obvious deficiency, but so far Groenewegen remains the only one to have received a disqualification."

Philippe Gilbert and Matteo Trentin represented riders in a series of meetings during the winter with the UCI Management Committee is expected to approve a series of new measures that will initially be applied at WorldTour races.  

"It is finally time to move from words to deeds," Bugno said.

"The first point on our list of requests that we sincerely hope will become operational as soon as possible concerns the barriers, which must be homologated and certified. They must constitute a protection for the athletes who, taken by the heat of the competition, can also make mistakes, as unfortunately happened to Dylan on August 5th last year.

"As a movement we must do everything possible to ensure the safety of the events and of their main actors. It is our duty to avoid the physical and moral pain that Fabio, Dylan and many other cyclists, both female and male, even in the minor categories, have and are experiencing."

Jakobsen’s Deceuninck-QuickStep team manager Patrick Lefevere was quick to threaten Groenewegen with legal action and some riders have indicated he will not be given a warm welcome when he returns to racing in the summer.  However, Bugno called for more understanding.  

"I hope that the controversy will now belong to the past and that once the sentence inflicted on Dylan is served, the whole group will welcome him back with friendship and understanding," Bugno said.