The first week of the Giro d’Italia 2021 is almost at an end, providing all the drama, power and electrifying action that we’ve become so accustomed to seeing as the best road cyclists in the world go head to head. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows though (definitely not all sunshine, if those perpetual rain clouds are anything to go by). Pieter Serry, of Team Deceuninck-Quickstep, took a bit of a nasty tumble on stage six, leaving him battered and bruised as he made his way to the top of San Giacomo. The concerns around race safety definitely ramped up last year amid massive crashes involving bikes, barriers and even helicopters. Now, we can add cars to the list of non-bicycle, non-race-risk paraphernalia to take out a rider in a Grand Tour this year.
On this occasion, the crash was simply down to a lack of concentration by the driver of the guilty car. Serry had dropped to the back of the cluster of favourites as they made their way up the climb and, less than 10k from the summit of the mountain, the BikeExchange team car managed to get so close that it managed to scrape the back wheel of Serry’s bike. The next thing he knew, he was lying on the tarmac beneath his bike, without a clue as to what had just happened.
In response to this, the Team Bike Exchange directeur sportif (DS), Gene Bates, has been expelled from the race by the Giro top brass and his passenger Matt White has been fined 2000 Swiss Francs. It sounds bad, and it is, but it could have been a lot worse for Serry. The car was right behind him and, under different circumstances, the rider may well have found himself beneath the tyres of the BikeExchange team car, rather than taking the tumble he took. Pieter Serry, fortunately, was able to carry on and finish the stage, but not before giving a massive dressing down to the driver of the car.
Funnily enough (or not so funny, as the case may be), this isn’t even the first time this season that the Belgian rider has been brought down by something other than a bike. He was struck by a motorbike just a few miles into the opening stage of the Volta a Catalunya in March and was forced to abandon the race. He had this to say after finishing the stage: “It’s a really sad feeling because one month ago in Catalunya I had the same with a motorbike. My back really hurts, and I was a bit emotional.”
That, we can easily imagine, is the very least of what he would have liked to say were he allowed to speak unfiltered, away from the cameras. The dangers of professional cycling seem to grow more numerous by the day. Are more sanctions and rules necessary to curb this kind of behaviour, or is it simply a question of teams ensuring that that raw, competitive nature doesn’t override concern for your fellow man? Let us know on Facebook and Instagram.