Team Sky's Bernie Eisel is one of most respected riders in the peloton known for his ability to read a race and look out for his fellow riders to ensure their safety on the road. Eisel is racing the Giro d'Italia as Sky's captain on the road as the team looks to deliver Richie Porte to overall success. With overall favourite Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) nursing a dislocated shoulder, the result of a crash caused by a spectator at the end of stage 6, Cyclingnews spoke to Eisel about the crash and rider safety at the race.
"It was bad luck for Alberto who crashed and really, really bad luck for Daniele Colli. I think the whole Giro feels terribly sorry for him and we hope he recovers well and soon. He's had a tough time before this to comeback and he's a tough rider," Eisel said. "At the same time, I don't think the safety is too bad this year at the Giro. It's well organised, crashes always happen and I said it a long time ago that it would be better for the GC riders to get the time with 3km to go, even 5km to go, and just roll home easy. Retired riders from the old school days say 'no, no, they also have to race. It's part of racing.'"
While a spectator also caused a crash in the finale of stage 2 when they rode a bike into the peloton, Eisel explained that this Giro has so far been relatively free from rider-induced crashes.
"From the rider's side, it's actually not too bad here with no one doing crazy stuff and sometimes it's just bad luck that happens. We can't do anything to keep all the spectators off the road. We are the sport that comes really close to the spectators which makes cycling so fascinating and special but this [the stage 6 crash] is also something that can happen," he said.
The Giro d'Italia is the first grand tour in which the extreme weather protocol will be tested which is good news to Eisel who led a led a collective neutralization at the windswept Gent-Wevelgem in the spring.
"Here, we will see. It's in place so we will see what happens. At the moment it looks like we will have good weather," Eisel said, adding the recent example at the Tour of California was an encouraging use of the protocol.
"They did a great job in California changing the race and organising a complete different stage. With a time trial, it's a bit easier but they did an amazing job there. Still, it shows we are going in the right direction."
Watch the video below to here more of Eisel's thoughts on race safety and click here to subscribe to the Cyclingnews video channel.