Cycling: Alaphilippe, Viviani … how to avoid accidents with racing motorcycles

In a cycle race, danger is supposed to come from everywhere: from an unruly spectator, an off-leash dog or an obstacle. But not a biker from the organization. Julian Alaphilippe’s spectacular accident on Sunday during the Tour of Flanders reminded us of the opposite. The world champion crashed into a motorcycle of a commissioner, positioned in a bend in the rope. Result for Alaphilippe: a retirement, two broken fingers and a real chance to win during his first “Round” which ran aground on the asphalt.

It is likely that we will not see soon on a race Eddy Lissens, the biker at fault. A 64-year-old retired policeman who is used to platoons. A few days earlier, during the 11th stage of the Giro, another biker had collided, in the middle of a roundabout, with the Italian Elia Viviani, the sprinter of Cofidis. These two accidents are a reminder to what extent driving a motorcycle in a race requires specific training. On the events organized by ASO (Tour de France, Paris-Roubaix, Paris-Nice, Critérium du Dauphiné, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Flèche Wallonne, etc.) the rules are draconian. Already the Belgian rider could not have been there since the age limit for bikers is 60 years in ASO races.

How are bikers trained on the Tour?

It is not enough to have a motorcycle license and to love the bike to become a racing driver. “If you knew the number of CVs that I receive, loose François Lemarchand, director of Paris-Nice and responsible for pilots at ASO. Already, we favor former cyclists because it is essential to know the reflexes and codes of the peloton. And we must also start with amateur races. Riding between the public and the riders requires special mastery. A good pilot is one who feels the race, guesses and anticipates the trajectories. “

All must be licensed in a cycling club in order to know the environment well. And every three years, they must complete an internship in Fontainebleau (Seine-et-Marne) with the Republican Guard in order to maintain their reflexes and their address. Updating the fundamentals is essential. “We constantly remind people of the obvious, like never overtaking a motorcycle or a peloton while crossing a city,” continues Lemarchand. Or never stop in a roundabout. Riding in a race has nothing to do with the piloting of Mr. or Mrs. Everybody. “

What are the penalties in the event of a problem?

The pilots are constantly monitored. Including the most seasoned. In the event of misconduct, they are summoned to the race staff. Depending on the seriousness of their infraction, they receive a reprimand or a temporary or permanent exclusion from the race. “What I saw on the Tour of Flanders is mind-boggling and too big, plague François Lemarchand. I can tell you the guy, if he had done that on one of our races, he would be out. But let’s not give lessons. It can happen to anyone. “

Bernard Papon will not say the opposite. The Syndic of photographers on the Tour is one of the most seasoned of the event. However, he remembers his complicated debut in 1999. “My rider on the Amstel Gold Race, Jacques Garcia, was very experienced. But at one point, he stopped at the entrance of a bend when we couldn’t. As a result, two of the four escaped got into us six kilometers from the finish. Lance Armstrong had narrowly avoided the fall. On a race, no one can say that this kind of incident will never happen to them.

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