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UCI president blames Tour de France crashes 'above all' on riders and tension in peloton

PONTIVY FRANCE JUNE 28 Caleb Ewan of Australia and Team Lotto Soudal involved in a crash at arrival during the 108th Tour de France 2021 Stage 3 a 1829km stage from Lorient to Pontivy LeTour TDF2021 Marco Haller of Austria and Team Bahrain Victorious Jack Haig of Australia and Team Bahrain Victorious involved in a crash Injury on June 28 2021 in Pontivy France Photo by AnneChristine Poujoulat PoolGetty Images
Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) is taken away after his crash late on stage 3 (Image credit: Getty Images)

UCI president David Lappartient has denied that the design of the course on stage 3 of the Tour de France had anything to do with the numerous crashes that shook up the peloton and left a large number of riders injured.

Lappartient, who comes from the finish town of Pontivy, has also responded to the criticisms of cycling’s “international authorities” made by Groupama-FDJ’s director Marc Madiot on French TV. Madiot claimed that, amongst others, cycling’s governing bodies had failed to provide solutions to the fraught, crash-filled, finales that the Tour has seen on two of its opening stages and warned that there could soon be deaths if the situation continued.

“He gets carried away all the time. Cycling is cycling, although I suffer when I see the riders fall. If he still wants races to reach city centers, it has to be accepted that it is a little more technical,” Lappartient told Ouest France.

Lappartient said that the speed of the finale was logical given the finish was at the bottom of a climb. He also told the newspaper that neither Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) or Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) crashed “a priori” – “in principle”  – on their own.

Playing down the possible risks, Lappartient said: “The roads were fine, a constant width and there were no traffic islands. It was technical, but there was a  nice finishing straight, it’s just that everybody was going fast because Pontivy is at the bottom of a  steep valley."

“Above all, the peloton was very nervous, Roglic a priori was alone” – presumably a way of saying he was not in contact with other riders – “when he fell, Ewan was alone.”

Warming to his case, Lappartient told the newspaper: “the majority of crashes are due to a lack of attention but I can understand them [the riders], they are so stressed out during the entire day. And inevitably it’s edgy [in the peloton], everybody wants to be up there [at the front], and there’s not enough space for everybody. But I don’t think one should blame that on the route.”

Lappartient’s comments will likely add fuel to a heated ongoing debate as to what solutions are possible to the series of crashes that plagued the final parts of stages one and three of the Tour.

No comment or questions appear in the interview regarding a possible extension of the neutralised final section to eight kilometres from the line, as suggested by Tim de Clerq (Deceuninck-Quick Step) before the stage began.