Sunday 19 November 2017

Giro d’Italia forced to drop plans for 'life-threatening' fastest descender competition

A number of cyclists have criticised the idea. CREDIT: AP
A number of cyclists have criticised the idea. CREDIT: AP Newsdesk

The Giro d'Italia has dropped controversial plans to award prizes for downhill speeds after coming under pressure from riders and officials.

The year's first Grand Tour begins its 100th edition on Friday and was scheduled to include awards for riders producing the quickest speeds on descending sections of the three-week course.

Cycling has been tinged with tragedy, including in recent years and months - Belgian rider Wouter Weylandt died during the 2011 Giro - and the UCI and riders' groups were among those to express concerns to RCS Sport, the Giro organisers.

A statement from RCS Sport said on Wednesday: "The spirit of the initiative was to highlight an important skill which is an integral part of a cycle race without putting the riders' safety in jeopardy.

"Rider safety is, and remains, the priority of the Giro and the race organisers.

"Comments have been made suggesting that this initiative could be potentially misunderstood and generate behaviours not in line with the safety principle.

"The race organisers have taken these comments on board and change an initiative that could be misinterpreted.

"Therefore the race organisers have decided to eliminate all such classification and prize money as per the race regulations, leaving the timekeeping of the descents purely as statistical data for the fans."

The decision to scrap the new competition, which would have been sponsored by tyre manufacturer Pirelli, has been welcomed by the Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA).

Headed by 1990 Giro champion Gianni Bugno, the CPA has been working with the sport's governing body, the UCI, to persuade RCS to drop the competition ever since it was first announced on Monday.

In a statement given to Press Association Sport, the CPA said it was "very happy" RCS had come to "a solution for the good of the riders" and thanked the UCI for its support.

"It seems the voice of the riders is always more important and we can tell this also from all the work that has been done - and it is still in progress - in the safety and technical commissions," the CPA said, adding that it hoped its "safety plan" for races would be adopted by all races and not just WorldTour events.

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