Giro d'Italia - Controversial Giro descent under scrutiny

Wed, 11 May 16:05:00 2011

Giro D'Italia organisers have pledged to double check the controversial descent of the Col de Crostis on stage 14 following the death of Belgium's Wouter Weylandt in a downhill crash.

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The previously unused climb in the Dolomites is partly untarmacked, and riders have expressed concern that part of its 14km descent has no crash barriers, just ski nets.

"I don't think we need to go down a climb with just ski nets as protection," Canadian Michael Barry said.

"It doesn't make it more exciting, we shouldn't be asked to race like that. It's not necessary, sport is exciting enough."

The Sky rider made a general appeal for course security to be revised including "the way stages are structured".

"Just after the starts, in particular, there is always a kind of panic," he said.

Race director Angelo Zomegnan told La Gazzetta dello Sport: "I understand after Wouter Weylandt's death that riders are worried about the descent of the Crostis.

"That's why we will send various members of the organisation to check out the untarmacked sector."

"Our priority is that riders can participate in total security."

Weylandt, 26, fell off his bike on the third stage coming down from the Passo del Bocco, a stretch of road riders described as a very technical descent.

Team officials said the safety debate over race radios, used by team directors to warn riders of upcoming obstacles and dangers, had intensified following Weylandt's death.

Cycling's world governing body, the UCI, has proposed they should be banned in all races from next year.

The teams protested against the proposal in the Tour of Mallorca this February and proposed a boycott of the Tour of Beijing in the autumn.

"(Weylandt's death) raises lots of questions," Movistar sports director Jose Luis Arrieta said.

"We're all shocked right now but the truth is for the last year we've been fighting to keep one of the few means (radios) we have to ensure rider safety..."

"Radios reduce the potential for risks," added Sky sports director Sean Yates, "because I radio through all the details, like if there's one sharp right-hander on a fairly straightforward descent."

"Last year I was following (Italian rider Dario) Cioni on the descent of the Gavia (in the Dolomites), so close I was almost up his backside, and it was like I was a co-pilot with the sat nav, seeing the bends and radioing through."

"If you've got a guy shouting through in your ear what's coming up when you're on the limit, it's got to be advantageous."

UCI president Pat McQuaid was not immediately available to comment.

The Giro D'Italia finishes on May 29 in Milan. Britain's David Millar is the current leader.

Reuters

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