Cycling-Ratcliffe urges governing bodies to step up efforts to ensure rider safety

  • Cycling
  • Friday, 12 Apr 2024

(Reuters) - Owner of Team INEOS Jim Ratcliffe has urged cycling's governing bodies to step up their efforts towards ensuring rider safety after a crash involving some of the sport's biggest names brought fresh scrutiny.

Last week, the fourth stage of the Tour of the Basque Country was marred by a horrific crash where two-times Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard broke a collarbone and several ribs and also sustained pulmonary contusion and a pneumothorax.

The crash also involved three-times Vuelta a Espana winner Primoz Roglic and 2022 Vuelta winner Remco Evenepoel, with the latter having to undergo surgery on a broken collarbone.

In March, cyclo-cross world champion Wout van Aert underwent surgery for fractures sustained in a crash at the Dwars door Vlaanderen one-day race.

In an open letter, Ratcliffe said cycling's response to the crashes paled in comparison to the major safety review undertaken by Formula One following the death of triple champion Ayrton Senna in a crash at the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994.

"Until now, governing bodies have made very few changes and serious accidents are a common occurrence," Ratcliffe wrote.

"As recently as last week, we had yet another horrific crash involving three of the world's top cyclists, Jonas Vingegaard, Remco Evenepoel and Primoz Roglic...

"Cyclists are always going to push things to the limit as they are elite sportsmen and that is why action is so important."

Last year, the sport's governing UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) announced the creation of a body designed to improve the riders' safety following the death of Swiss rider Gino Mader after crashing into a ravine at the Tour de Suisse.

The body, called 'safeR', will not be functional before 2025.

Ratcliffe lauded UCI's initiative, adding: "For the first time, the sport will have a dedicated safety body whose sole concern is to make the sport safer, reducing the risks to riders and spectators whilst losing none of the thrill of racing.

"This is what Formula One has done so well over the past 30 years and I would hope that we will now see the same in cycling.

"I applaud the UCI for taking the issues on board and agreeing to support the establishment of SafeR. We now need to see real action to ensure the safety of the sport."

(Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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