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Safety First

Posted by Bruce Hildenbrand Feb 18, 2008

Hats off to the Amgen Tour of California (AToC) race organizers.  Last year's dangerous finish line in

Santa Rosa which saw 50+ riders go down was modified to close the four lane road down to two

lanes so as to make the finish safer.  By modifying the finish straight the AToC organizers reduced

the number of lanes of hazardous road dots from three to one.  Bravo.  These riders are pros and

they race for a living.  If they go down, the cupboards may run bare.


Unfortunately, this year another incident took out Team High Road's George Hincapie and foiled the

sprint of fast-finisher Tom Boonen who narrowly avoided the crash.  It appears that this time the

culprit was the highway underpass where riders go from light to dark to light at 30+MPH.  Do the

organizers need to remove the underpass from the course?  Probably not.  Sometimes things just

happen.  BTW, George is banged up, but should start tomorrow.  He is one tough dude!


I have been advocating safe finishes for the riders for years.  The racers are literally sprinting

for paychecks, you have to allow them as safe as an environment as possible.  If there was a

riders union, maybe things like the safety of the finish line areas could be guaranteed.


Hey, it looks like rain is in the forecast for the AToC which could make the race even more interesting.

I know these guys don't mind getting wet, but if it snows on top of the 4200' Mount Hamilton it could

make for some epic racing.  My guess is that everybody will get wet and probably cold, but the race

will go on.  After all, it is bike racing.



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