Tour of Britain organisers have opened an investigation into Wednesday's stage 4 crash that saw several riders collide with a car parked on the route. A spokesperson said they were taking the incident "very seriously" and vowed to learn any lessons to make sure riders aren't placed in such danger again.
The incident occurred when the peloton exited through a left-hand bend in the town of Retford, where a car was parked in a disabled bay on the right-hand side of the road.
Orica-Scott's Michael Hepburn was the first rider to plough into the back of the vehicle, smashing the rear windshield, and soon most of BMC's team – Brent Bookwalter, Ben Hermans, Silvan Dilier and Joey Rosskopf – along with Katusha-Alpecin's Reto Hollenstein, were on the deck. Bookwalter was taken to hospital but did not have severe injuries, while the rest of the riders finished the race.
"It's ridiculous where this car was parked," an angry Ben Hermans told Cyclingnews at the BMC bus after the finish. "It's really a fault of the organization, or the commissaire who was in front of the race. They're in front of the race in the car to see things like that. It was so dangerous."
Officials from the race organisation met after the stage to discuss the incident, with a statement released a couple of hours later.
"We are aware of the incident involving Brent Bookwalter of the BMC Racing Team in Retford during Stage 4 and are investigating thoroughly as to the circumstances leading up to it," the statement read.
"We operate a rolling road closure and cannot remove every parked vehicle on the race route, however we work with residents, communities and local authorities ahead of the event to ensure as safe and clear a passage for the race as possible.
"In this instance the car that was parked in a disabled parking bay wasn't able to be moved before the arrival of the race and as per our procedures was flagged by one of our motorcycle marshals to alert riders to an obstacle in the road. The rider was treated immediately at the scene and taken to hospital by race medical staff and is in a stable and non-critical condition with mild concussion, lacerations and bruising.
"The Nottinghamshire stage was a huge success and while we do not wish for this incident to take the shine off a great day, we take it very seriously indeed and will investigate thoroughly, ensuring any lessons learnt are implemented immediately. We invest in and take very seriously the safety of competitors and spectators so are naturally disappointed by any negative incidents such as today's."
Thankfully, most riders weren't severely injured, but there was a feeling that the damage could have been much worse.
"It's for sure not good," said Dilier, who came away with scratches on his hands and knees. "It's a pretty dangerous sport, if you think about it, so it would be nice if we could avoid something like this. It's for sure not funny. I don't think the organisers tried to make a crash, but I hope they also do their best to avoid stuff like this."
Hermans said he would need to see the team doctor about his shoulder.
"I am injured," he said. "I was injured five weeks ago – I broke four bones and 11 teeth – and now I feel my shoulder. I'll have to get it looked at and we'll see how it is."
Hollenstein, who suffered a nasty cut to his arm, told Cyclingnews he and the team's directors would discuss making a complaint to the race organisers.
"We'll see what we say to them, but I think they know already," he said. "It's bad for this kind of race. It's well organised, but things like this shouldn't happen."
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