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Traffic on time trial course causes safety concerns at Bloeizone Fryslan Tour

Bloeizone Fryslan Tour
Bloeizone Fryslan Tour stage 1 time trial (Image credit: Eurosport)

The presence of moving vehicles such as cars and a van on the course during the stage 1 time trial at the Bloeizone Fryslan Tour on Thursday have sparked concerns over athlete safety at the three-day race held from March 3-5 in the Netherlands.

The opening time trial took placed on a technical 14.4km route, which organisers told Cyclingnews was a 'completely closed course' in Surhuisterveen, and the stage was won by world champion Ellen van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo).  

Organisers of the Bloeizone Fryslan Tour confirmed to Cyclingnews that the roads were closed to traffic during the time trial and secured with traffic controllers, and that the vehicles on the route came from the houses and driveways located along the course.

"The time trial took place on a completely closed course. All streets were secured with 89 traffic controllers. The cars and cyclists came from houses and driveways on the course," organisers wrote in an email to Cyclingnews.

Video footage of the race, however, showed the driver of a van pull onto the time trial course in front of Van Dijk's teammate Letizia Paternoster during her effort. The driver of the van appeared to block the roadway while attempting to back into a driveway.

Organisers have stated that the driver ignored one of the traffic controllers in place along the course, and has subsequently been approached by local authorities.

"The bus driver was approached by the police. Ignoring an instruction from a traffic controller is a criminal offence in the Netherlands," organisers told Cyclingnews.

Video footage also showed a driver of a car travelling in the opposite direction to Paternoster at another point during her time trial.

Additional incidents were reported in Sporza (opens in new tab) to include wrong-way drivers and groups of city cyclists on the course during the race. Footage also showed Christine Majerus (SD Worx) and Aafke Soet (Jumbo-Visma) negotiating a group of cycling commuters traveling the opposite direction on the circuit.

Images from the race also showed a vehicle stopped on the narrow roadway between the sets of roadside barriers.

There were no reports of injuries. 

The Bloeizone Fryslan Tour have told Cyclingnews that upon further evaluation they may consider removing the time trial from the event in future.

"Characteristic of a time trial is that the course must be completely closed for five hours. The solution is that in the future we will no longer include a time trial in a stage race," organisers said.

"Despite the fact that the course is completely closed, this is unavoidable. It is a bitter observation that organizing a time trial is hardly possible anymore. We will include this in the evaluation and from there on no longer include the time trial in the stage schedule."

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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.