Road racers cheated death in Paris-Roubaix road race!

CHARLES LEE | 14th Apr 2015 | NEWS

Perhaps, if luck did not interfere in any way, the lives of several cyclists might have been tragically lost.  At the 113thParis-Roubaix road race held last Sunday, in northern France, several racers cheated death, managing to cross a train track just mere seconds before a high-speed train whizzed past them.  The train track’s safety barrier was already lowered at that point in time to prevent anyone from crossing the track.

SNCF, the French state railway company of which that high-speed train belongs to, has promptly issued a statement to the authorities to take action against the riders who acted against the safety rules.  In the statement, SNCF said: “Millions of television viewers saw live this extremely serious and irresponsible action which could have been tragic.  A few seconds later, a TGV (train) ran on this line and could have hit the peloton.” 

However, according to Amaury Sport Organisation, the organiser of the road race, the peloton (group of riders) that crossed the lowered safety barrier was unable to stop in time.  Reportedly, the peloton was cycling at racing speeds of approximately 59 kilometres per hour when the safety barriers started lowering.  President of the Jury of Race Commissioners Mr Guy Dobbelaere said: “It wasn’t possible for the leading riders to stop sufficiently safely.  The peloton was 10 metres away when the barrier started to close.” 

UCI Road World Champion Arnaud Demare said: “This needs to be taken care of.  It was dangerous.  We went through but it was close.”  Arnaud rides for the UCI ProTeam French Cycling Team.

A police motorcycle managed to stop the remaining riders from crossing the track in this 243 kilometre-long race.

Spokesperson for SNCF Mr Christophe Piednoel added that the peloton, which was 10 minutes earlier than the projected time (to arrive at the track) due to a strong tail wind, was not expected to run into the train.

The International Cycling Union, or UCI, has asked the organiser for a comprehensive report on this incident, describing the near-miss event as “extremely worrying”.