Bauke Mollema (Trek Factory Racing) and Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep) were happy to begin their 2015 season with a place on the podium at the Vuelta a Murcia on Saturday but were also relieved to avoid hitting a car that stopped just before the finish line of the one-day Spanish race.
Rein Taaramäe (Astana) won alone on the uphill finish but Mollema, Stybar and the other riders arrived at speed, just ten seconds behind him, with the Dutchman forced to dive to the right of the car, and squeeze between the barriers and car's mirrors, while Stybar went left. Both could have been badly injured if they had hit the car. Other riders were forced to take similar evasive action as can be seen in the video below.
The overhead video of the finish and the incident was captured on a mobile phone and published on Twitter by @GuilleBohemioo. It was then highlighted by former Lampre-Merida directeur sportif Joxean Matxin and an edit version of the video was posted on Youtube by CyclingHub15.
Taaramäe started the climb to the finish with a clear lead but the chasing peloton rapidly ate into his lead on the climb to the finish, with three race cars and five motorbikes opting to stay behind him instead of being pulled off the race route. The race directors car and the Astana team car followed Taaramäe through the finish but what appeared to be the neutral service car seemed to stall and stopped just before the line, blocking much of the road.
The incident highlighted the risk of racing and the need for safe conditions. The UCI has yet to react to the incident but is likely to open an investigation into what happened and why the car stopped so close to the finish.
There was no mention of the incident in the race reports from the riders' teams but Mollema and Stybar both pointed to the danger of the stopped car on Twitter.
“Nice race to restart after 4months.I can be happy with 3th place. I wish that there is next time not parked car on the finish line. #Murcia” Stybar tweeted.
Mollema published a still image from the video footage, which showed his close shave with the car. He tweeted: "The sprint for second was close with @zdenekstybar. Even closer with a parked car 10 meters before finish..."
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