Cycling-Van der Poel believes riders are the biggest danger in cycling


  • Cycling
  • Friday, 05 Apr 2024

Cycling - UCI World Championships 2023 - Glasgow, Scotland, Britain - August 6, 2023 Netherlands' Mathieu van der Poel in action during the men's elite road race REUTERS/Maja Smiejkowska/File Photo

(Reuters) - Mathieu van der Poel aims to retain his Paris Roubaix title this weekend, and when it comes to race safety he feels that riders are the main danger, the Dutchman said on Friday.

Thursday's stage four of the Tour of the Basque Country was marred by a horrific crash where Jonas Vingegaard broke a collarbone and several ribs and also sustained pulmonary contusion and a pneumothorax.

The crash happened at a turn on a high speed descent, and race leader Primoz Roglic was forced to abandon the tour, while Remco Evenepoel suffered a fracture to his right collarbone and his right shoulder blade.

"I think the most dangerous part of cycling is the riders themselves," Van der Poel told a press conference before Sunday's race.

"We take the risks and that's the main problem, everyone wants to be at the front in the same place and it's not possible.

"We can change a lot of things to make it better, but it's never going to be completely secure."

World champion Van der Poel won his third Tour of Flanders last Sunday, and this Sunday he is favourite to successfully defend his Paris Roubaix title.

Race organisers have implemented a chicane in an effort to slow the riders down as they head into the notorious cobbled Trouee d'Arenberg, one of the most dangerous sections of the Hell of the North.

The change was announced a few days before the race, and Van der Poel responded to a video of the chicane posted on social media platform X by asking "Is this a joke?", and the rider is still not convinced.

"I think it's good that they're trying something. But in my opinion, the chicane is not the right solution and also to do it in the week before the race is not the best option either," he said.

"Obviously, it's one of the most dangerous places of the season, so it's good that they're thinking about change, but for me change isn't always the best thing to do.

"If you go into Arenberg in 20th position, it's pretty good, you're still in the race, but if you go into the chicane in 20th position, I think everyone who is after positions 5 to 10 will get stuck and then you easily lose 30 seconds."

Van der Poel's belief that riders themselves are the biggest danger will not, however, see him change his tactics for the race as he pursues his sixth Monument title.

"Like I said, the riders are the main issue, but I'm also joining the party, if you want to win, you have to be where everyone wants to be at the crucial moments."

(Reporting by Trevor Stynes; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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