Moto takes down Van Avermaet in San Sebastian.
Greg Van Avermaet proved the number rule of life as a pro cyclist. For every up there is at least one down. This sport is one long argues metaphor for highs lows.
Two weeks ago Van Avermaet won his first Tour de France stage, beating Peter Sagan in a two-up print on the rise of to Rodez. It was the high point of his season so far and everyone looked promising for the rest of the season.
In fact, today it looked very much like Van Avermaet might win the Clásica San Sebastián. He attacked on the final steep Bordako Tontorra climb and was clear of the chasers when a moto ran into his back wheel, knocking Van Avermaet off his bike and breaking his frame. Game over as Adam Yates attack behind and solo’d to victory.
The Belgian was not pleased. “It was a steep climb and the moto driver was too close to me,” Van Avermaet said. “He ran right into the back of my bike. My frame was broken and my back wheel was broken. So the race was over for me. I don’t know what the moto driver was thinking. He did not say anything to me. Maybe he just gave it a little too much gas and ran into me.”
What the video shows beyond any doubt is that the moto was far too close behind the BMC leader. It looked his the motorcyclist was trying to draft off Van Avermaet and the narrow road offered almost no room for maneuvering around him.
“The bad thing is that I think I could have won the race,” Van Avermaet said. “I had a big gap. Maybe Yates could have come back, but I think I still could have been there in the sprint. It is not every year you can win a classic like San Sebastian. So this is really disappointing.”
Does this feel like we’re finally hitting critical mass on rider safety? How many guys have to be run off road by race motorcycles or cars before theres a change in procedure. BMC boss Jim Ochowicz pointedly asked “Where is the UCI in all of this?”
Ochowicz’s team is without both Taylor Phinney –broken leg, shattered kneecap courtesy of moto in US Pro Cycling Challenge and Peter Stetina, broken leg shattered kneecap thanks to hitting unpadded steel poles in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco.
Van Avermaet is not the luckiest of riders — as his long list of second and third places attest — and San San Sebastián was another example of his snake bites. Apparently the moto driver, who took a tumble off the road, didn’t even say anything to Van Avermaet. No apology, no explanation.
Perhaps he’ll get an explanation from UCI president Brian Cookson. The man presiding over the governing body of the sport recently decried the rising hooliganism at the Tour de France. He also has a moots-gone-mad problem that needs addressing.