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It did happen, apparently. I put emphasis on one of the learnings from back then (red color) - nope, cycling hasn’t learned this cheap safety trick yet.

TT tyres being blamed for a lot of the crashes.
The Jumbo trio were using them as was Nicholas Roche.
You would think that Jumbo would have cottoned on, if not after the first, but the second.

OK, there were some reports on twitter this morning which (if yet they're a bit unconfirmed) paints a bleak picture of ASO's efforts when it comes to rider safety.

  • A race motorcycle went down at the Valverde/Izaguirre +++ corner, spilling some fluid (oil or fuel) making it extra slippery. This was the cause of many of the accidents that happened there.
  • Taylor Phinney narrowly missed hitting Ion Izaguirre lying injured on the ground.

I come from a skiing background and I see plenty of lame excuses for poor safety work in pro cycling. Yes, riders have to accept that there is a risk when riding on the edge that will never go away. However, with relatively simple means they could have had far less falls and less serious injuries yesterday. It's not like it was the first time it rains in Düsseldorf, so it is a bit exaggerated to blame everything that happened on the weather.

12 turns in a race (at least a race of this economical magnitude) can easily and at fairly low cost be safe-guarded better than what we saw yesterday. It's pretty much routine in ski-racing.

Yesterday, they could have:
  • avoided inverted Y shape barriers on the outside far ends of all turns
  • padded the barriers with something cushioning (RCS often use hayballs, which actually works quite well). Yesterday yellow crash pads were added on one turn that had a particularily narrow exit, but not where we saw all the crashes.
  • prioritized which turns to provide extra safeguarding in by entry speed, not street width. It was the downhill off the bridge that provided the extra energy that made this catastrophe for Valverde and Izaguirre and provided narrow misses for many others.
  • waved off approaching riders after falls when there is a victim on the ground. This is of course not ideal. They'll have to go back and start all over. It is not fair and equal competition for all anymore then. However, safety will be dramatically improved for the injured rider on the ground, the rescue crew (whoever that may be) and last but not least, the approaching rider. This is standard procedure after crashes in high speed motor sports, downhill skiing etc and why it is not done in cycling team trials? A cyclist at 70 km/h has the same damage potential as a skier at similar speeds (potentially lethal on a bad day). Traffic incident practice is alway secure the location before calling for help and starting first aid - this golden rule is not followed in cycling.   :slow

Stopping the race and cleaning up the corner could have had a huge impact on the serious incident statistics, if it is true that spilled fluids from a race motorcycle was a factor in most of the accidents. Also, stopping the race for evacuation of Izaguirre would have avoided the near-miss incident of Phinney. In an ITT these are real options as it is different from the "show most go on" road race where one rider fallen seldom has consequences that can be dealt with in a timely fashion to reduce risk for the rest of the riders. In an ITT the race organizers have choices to make.

EDIT: Norwegian TV2 confirms Movistar are blaming a race motorcycle accident.
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