Still in Redon, in the town of chestnuts, after 500 meters the kilometer zero banner, the Tour de France riders stop, land and thus, standing on their bikes, count for a minute. Then they resumed their march towards Fougères, the goal of the fourth stage, still in Brittany that is already overwhelming, but they did it calmly and slowly. They travel 10 kilometers in 20 minutes, enough time for what they want, for television commentators and journalists to talk about what worries them and demand, “that a debate on safety be organized among all cycling actors, runners, teams, organizers and federations ”, and to continue to underline the recklessness of the organizers to trace the end of the third stage, the first with a sprint, through narrow roads and low hills. “Why do they do this?” Asks French cyclist Benoit Cosnefroy. “This is no longer cycling, it is boxing. You can only go quietly in line, where you can cut yourself, and at the head, where there is no room. You can’t go in the middle ”.
Cyclists go to bed on Monday in pain and so angry that they no longer want to joke that their wounds are just sheet metal and paint, as good days do, and many can only sleep thanks to an Orfidal, a minimal pill that they let dissolve slowly under the tongue. The anxiolytic and hypnotic effects of the benzodiazepine, however, dissolve much more quickly when, with the sunrise, the men of the Tour begin to have news and comments on the networks for breakfast. They, who were only waiting for a little empathy and for some sign of concern about their falls from the cycling powers, which are two, the International Cycling Union (UCI) and ASO, the owners of the Tour, read what say the heads of both organizations, David Lappartient and Christian Prudhomme, and their spirits sinks even more, they become discouraged, frustrated, and make up their minds. Something must be done, they decide. And they are supported by the teams, whom many blame for the tension at the end of the stage, since they all demand that all their riders be in front in the last kilometers, they are overwhelmed by the ear rings, they remind them that there is danger ahead, they send them up and go down, and they stress them to such an extent that a veteran like Alejandro Valverde, with more than 20 great laps in his record, tells his people that he is really scared in the peloton, that this is a sinvivir. “We must find formulas to reduce tension,” admits Eusebio Unzue, head of Movistar, who also calls for union between the teams, minimum agreements.
The cyclists finally issued a lukewarm statement, recalling that they asked to increase the non-aggression zone of the last three kilometers to five kilometers, and that the commissioners, led by the Spanish Txirri Aranzabal, appointed by the UCI, replied that it could not be, that the regulation is the regulation. “We ask the UCI to convene all parties to try to adapt the three-kilometer rule to daily needs,” they ask in what they describe as a “noble gesture.”
The president of the UCI, a right-wing politician re-elected on Sunday as president of the Morbihan departmental council, was born precisely in Pontivy, the Breton city settled at the bottom of a valley that can only be reached downhill, and downhill came falls that most moved the peloton towards Pontivy, Monday’s goal. To the local press, to the newspaper West France, He declared: “I was racing on Monday and the road looked good to me. Even the city council removed some dangerous obstacles. The falls were the responsibility of the runners: everyone wants to be in front and there is no room. Everyone runs with a lot of tension, stressed. They have to pay more attention ”.
Prudhomme’s thinking is summed up in a headline – “There would also be crashes on a Formula 1 track” – and it also sums up traditionalist cycling thinking: it has always been crashes and there will always be crashes. Nobody remembers the angry cry of the great Octave Lapize when passing the Tourmalet in 1910 addressed to the organizer, Henry Desgrange ?: “Murderer, you are a murderer.”
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.