Former professional cyclist Adam Hansen, now president of CPA, the riders’ union, spoke to Eurosport on Monday about changes underway to make the sport safer. There were several notable events in 2023 that stood out in terms of the dangers cyclists felt, most notably the death of Gino Mäder in the Tour de Suisse. The Swiss cyclist had a fall during Stage 5 while descending and was immediately transported to the hospital. Tragically, he passed away the following day.
Vuelta opening stage disaster
During the opening team time trial stage at this year’s Vuelta a España, efforts to have riders cross the finish line during the magical dusk hours were derailed by a torrential downpour, resulting in teams finishing under pitch-black conditions.
“SafeR” is doing a test at Luxembourg @skodatour I would like to thank them for opening up, being transparent and letting us see everything they do and how they operate. With the UCI, @mickrogers, Organisers @tgouvenou (ASO), Teams Jaap van Hulten and Jeff See (head of safety… pic.twitter.com/gpVDhLwQB7
— Adam Hansen (@HansenAdam) September 20, 2023
UCI cancelled women’s race over dangerous conditions
In June, the second edition of the Tour Féminin des Pyrénées was abruptly terminated, with the UCI stepping in to cancel the event. This decision came in response to the withdrawal of several teams due to safety concerns. Riders had expressed worry about the race’s disorganization, citing issues such as cars on the course, pedestrians crossing the road, and parked vehicles.
When asked about the infamous Vuelta stage, Hansen said there wasn’t much the riders could do. “There was some talk like why didn’t the riders stop, why didn’t the teams stop,” he said. “But if you were to negotiate with the UCI, they can just say, ‘you can start, you don’t have to. If you don’t finish, then you don’t start the next day.’”
Putting pressure on organizers
He did say that as a result of some of the pressures put on race organizers, changes are happening. “Organizers have been reaching out to me and showing all the work they’ve done. In the last two weeks of the Vuelta, they were trying to outmatch other races with the safety nets and padding,” he said. “So riders have been saying it’s safer, organizers are trying a lot more. The future is going to get a lot safer, I believe, but at the moment, we…