Greg Van Avermaet’s bid for a victory at the Clásica San Sebastián came to an abrupt end when a TV motorcycle collided into him from behind, knocking him to the ground and breaking his bike, on the final climb over the steep Bordako Tontorra on Saturday.
Van Avermaet attacked on the climb, which summited just seven kilometres from the finish line, and was off the front of the main field when the incident occurred. The Belgian was unable to finish the race because of a broken bike, and his team director Yvon Ledanois called the incident “unacceptable.”
A BMC Racing press release noted that it was specifically a TV motorcycle that hit Van Avermaet, and the rider provided more detail about the incident with the motorcycle but said he was still unsure of what the driver was thinking at the time of the crash.
"It was a steep climb and the moto driver was too close to me," Van Avermaet said. "He ran right into the back of my bike. My frame was broken and my back wheel was broken. So the race was over for me. I don't know what the moto driver was thinking. He did not say anything to me. Maybe he just gave it a little too much gas and ran into me."
Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) made a similar attack near the top of the Bordako Tontorra ascent and stayed away from the chase group, soloing to the victory, although he did not know that he had won because of the confusion on the climb with the crash.
Van Avermaet’s teammate Philippe Gilbert managed to sprint for second place ahead of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), however, he said that if he had not crashed with the motorcycle, he could have won.
"The bad thing is that I think I could have won the race," Van Avermaet said. "I had a big gap. Maybe Yates could have come back, but I think I still could have been there in the sprint. It is not every year you can win a classic like San Sebastian. So this is really disappointing.”
Ledanois, who said the team wasn’t aware of the crash during the race because of a lack of communication, reiterated the team’s disappointment saying that, "We are not at all happy with this. Greg had a good gap. If this does not happen, he wins the race and Philippe finishes second. No information was given on the radio about the crash, so we did not even know it had happened."
Jim Ochowicz, BMC Racing Team President and General Manager, questioned the officiating of the event and asked, "Where is the UCI in all of this?"