Cycling: Jesse Sergent calls for change after cycling death

Jesse Sergent. Photo / Graham Watson/BettiniPhoto
Jesse Sergent. Photo / Graham Watson/BettiniPhoto

Jesse Sergent is calling for immediate changes to cycling tour rules following the death of Belgium's Antoine Demoitie during a race in northern France.

Sergent - an Olympic team pursuit bronze medallist in 2008 - is preparing for this weekend's Tour of Flanders, the very race in which he suffered a broken collarbone when struck by a service car last year.

The Association of Professional Cyclists is demanding an urgent investigation into the death of the 25-year-old Demoitie, who was hit by a motorbike after he was among several riders who fell.

Manawatu rider Sergent described the death as a "massive shock" and told RadioSport's Matt Brown there have been too many similar accidents over the past year and it was "scary how vulnerable we are".

Sergent wishes he had spoken up a year ago when he was injured. He suspects there are too many cars and bikes following races, and they travel too fast at times.

"Initially I felt anger - even on that day there were two accidents with cars, and since then so many accidents with cars and bikes," Sergent said about his accident.

"Now the unthinkable has happened and it's sad, it's shocking.

"Professional cycling is a dangerous sport and Belgium is probably the most dangerous racing you can do. When you add in the motorbikes and cars it is too much...it would be interesting to know what each of them is doing.

"We understand that a certain number need to be there but look at all the accidents in the last year. Some are quite high profile, some not, some in front of TV cameras so they got a lot of publicity, others haven't had that. I would say there have been more than 10 in the last year."

Sergent said cycling needed to look at the proficiency of the people driving cars and riding bikes, and consider rules forcing them to reduce their speed.

"Maybe they can only go 10km faster than us when they are passing. Sometimes they go past at five times the speed we are dong," he said.

"At the end of the race, it gets quite hectic and there is no real room for cars and motorbikes to be passing.

"When you are just wearing lycra and a helmet, you are not exactly wearing much protection. When you go up against a motorbike or a car it is not going to end well.

"You can't say these are freak accidents anymore. You've got to question everything.

"I've been out on a long training ride which gave me time to think about everything and realise how lucky I was. The same kind of thing could have happened to me. Changes need to be made - it needed to be worked out a year ago."

- NZ Herald

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