UK traffic: "There will always be situations"

The rider protest that occurred on the penultimate stage of last week's Tour of Britain was in fact the second time the race has been faced with such action as a result of traffic problems.

On the opening stage around Manchester in 2004, race officials sent a number of riders the wrong way inside the final kilometre. This year, on the fifth stage from Rochester to Canterbury, riders initiated a go-slow after officials let oncoming traffic onto the parcours, and chose to race only the final 30 kilometres.

"There are always going to be situations on our roads," said Tour of Britain chief executive Hugh Roberts to The North West Enquirer. "We had 1400 volunteers who came out to work on the race. We are doing as much as we can to create this in as safe an environment as possible."

With Liverpool set to host the start of the regional stage in next year's Tour of Britain before hosting the final stage in 2008, a number of figures in the cycling community are questioning the organisers' ability to stage of race of this calibre on Britain's heavily trafficked roads.

Event director Tony Doyle told the The North West Enquirer that total road closure - like the situation in virtually all European stage races on the UCI calendar - is an unlikely scenario. "Obviously we would like that to happen," said Doyle. "But with the laws of the land, it's not an easy thing to do - you've got to pass an actual Act of Parliament. The French have already passed theirs."

"We've taken on board the comments that the riders, media and general public have made, and now we're going to do everything to make sure that the route is safe [in future]," Doyle added.

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