After multiple crashes in both the men’s and women’s road races, including a particularly horrific crash by Annemiek van Vleuten, many have called the course too dangerous and have critised the UCI for allowing it. In response, the UCI has moved to defend itself and the course design.
“The Rio 2016 road race course was carefully designed and was extensively tested at the test event and in training,” said the UCI. “We do our utmost to design safe, challenging courses but unfortunately crashes do sometimes occur due to a combination of factors.”
One of the more vocal critics was Great Britain’s Chris Boardman, a Tour de France stage winner who won Olympic gold on the track in 1992. While he said he appreciated the tough course and understood that crashes are going to happen, his specific critcisms involved the placement of the technical descent so close to the finish and the lack of safety protection where crashes were likely to occur.
“A 20cm deep drop off at the edge of the road and sharp concrete edges running exposed for 99% of the descent at a point in the race where crashes were going to happen, was not acceptable. It should not have been signed off. As much as I loved the course including that descent, if these hazards could not be managed – due to either cost or practicalities – then the descent should not have been in the race let alone the final.”
“To reiterate, my anger was not about crashes – which are inevitable and normal – it was the potential for avoidable catastrophe if and when I rider did. The stakes should not be that high to win a bike race. I hope lessons were learned, this time we got away with it.”
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Annemiek van Vleuten crash descent olympic games RIO 2016 road race sergio henao UCI Vincenzo Nibali