Giro rid­ers ask: Is this a joke?

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS -

In what ap­pears to be an at­tempt to at­tract more view­ers to watch the Giro d’Italia, or­ga­niz­ers of the Ital­ian cycling race on Monday an­nounced a con­tro­ver­sial new awards cat­e­gory for rid­ers who make the fastest de­scents.

“For each timed down­hill stretch, the fastest rider will be awarded with a prize of €500,” the new rule states (via The In­ner Ring). “At the end of the Giro, the gen­eral clas­si­fi­ca­tion will be is­sued, based on the sum of the points achieved by each rider, and the fol­low­ing prizes will be awarded: 1st €5,000; 2nd €3,000; 3rd €2,000.”

The new clas­si­fi­ca­tion, which is spon­sored by the tire com­pany Pirelli, im­me­di­ately ruf­fled feath­ers in the cycling com­mu­nity.

Dutch cy­clist Wout Poels, who rides with Bri­tain’s Team Sky, de­cried the idea as “life-threat­en­ing” and noted on Twit­ter he hoped it was a joke.

Fel­low Dutchman Koen de Kort, who rides with the Trek-Se­gafredo team, echoed those re­marks on so­cial me­dia, call­ing the idea “ridicu­lous.”

Cy­clists are un­happy be­cause, while world cycling’s gov­ern­ing body has been at­tempt­ing to make the sport safer, the ad­di­tion of a com­pe­ti­tion that’s de­signed to en­cour­age rid­ers to ride even faster down steep de­scents ap­pears to be mak­ing it less safe.

To sup­port their point, some cy­clists al­luded to crashes dur­ing de­scents that have proven deadly. Ger­many’s Mar­cus Burghardt, who rides for Bora-Hans­grohe, tweeted to the race it­self, re­mind­ing or­ga­niz­ers of the crash that killed Bel­gian rider Wouter Wey­landt at the 2011 it­er­a­tion of the Giro d’Italia.

Es­ti­mated to have been go­ing around 80 km/h, Wey­landt crashed just a few kilo­me­tres from the fin­ish line of the third stage of the race when he ap­par­ently con­tacted a guard rail, which sent him on a col­li­sion course with a wall. He is be­lieved to have died upon im­pact.

Cy­clist Lindsay Bayer, also chimed in, call­ing the idea “in­cred­i­bly stupid.”

She pointed to Wey­landt’s case, as well as a down­hill crash re­sulted in the death of Amer­i­can Chad Young just last week.

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