Monday, 7 May 2012

Sprinting - the wild bunch

Downloaded here.

Today's crash and the rulings
Giro stage 3 gave us a bunch sprint as predicted today, but many riders hit the deck due to a dangerous manoeuvre by  Androni Giacattoli rider Roberto Ferrari. Among them reigning WC Mark Cavendish and Maglia Rosa Taylor Phinney.

The rules are quite clear: 

2.3.036 Sprints
Riders shall be strictly forbidden to deviate from the lane they selected when launching the sprint and, in so doing, endangering others. 

Not very concise if you study the text, but it is what it is and that's pretty much all there is of rules regarding sprinting. 

There is little doubt that Ferrari endangered others, a glance at Cav and Phinney tell you that, but when did Ferrari opened up his sprint? If we rewind to yesterday's sprint Cav kept his cool and looked left-right before he changed his lane as he opened his sprint, so it is possible to do so without endangering others. 

In addition to this, the rulings are there and there are officials who can react upon themselves and to any reaction from teams. Clearly Ferrari made a huge mistake, something the peloton will not forget. The riders form a tight community and riders being labelled as dangerous or hot-heads, will be treated according to group rules. Cav has also been criticised for changing lanes, remember Tour of Switzerland and the sprint where he and Haussler went down?

Sprinting has developed much during the years, or perhaps the dynamic of the peloton has. Firstly, many more riders are trying to keep themselves out of trouble staying near the front. Much to the disturbance of the sprintertrains. Secondly, many teams, including pro conti teams have young riders trying to make themselves a name and/or putting the team on the map. Sometimes the team make it on the map but not necessarily the way they hoped, as today. Competitive cycling is tough these days and not many believes it will be better any time soon. Experienced riders complaining about lack of respect for jerseys and "rank". Perhaps the peloton need more governance for riders safety, either by UCI or the riders themselves?

Today a huge crash happened just 200 meters from the finish line, causing Cav, Phinney and a few more hit the deck. Rulings are limited on the subject, but are clear to when riders are exposing others for risk. I love seeing a battle for the finish line but at the same time I want this to be as safe as possible. The sprints have developed and need a joint effort to control the outcome. Broad roads last 2 k's, few hairpins etc can the organisers do but the riders need to take responsibility for their own safety.

Here the last 5 kilometres of today's stage:

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