Rider Safety and the Tour de France

Following the “carnage” of the last two Tour stages, I asked on Twitter

Wondering what other sport puts their athletes at such risk without innovating safety equipment for them? Shoulder pads, rib protection?

Our followers were wondering the same thing:

  • @rosspdx – there’s plenty of body protection innovation coming out of the downhill mtb companies.
  • @SDVeloSocial – safety equipment exists, downhill Mtb uses it, if the roadies want to wear the restrictive extra weight it’s there.
  • @Chrismurphy101 – Is there any rule against wearing such protection?
  • @bonggg_com – i just thought about that. some sort of protection for collarbone breaks is warranted
  • @bpotstra Rugby? Skeleton/Luge? I dunno… I still can’t believe it wasn’t until 2003 when helmets were mandatory in road cycling!
  • @svdodge Rugby. In any case, your point is very valid. TdF organizers have apparently thought

After two deaths in the past decade, the UCI finally forced helmets and only previously required them on the flat stages. Races would toss them off before the climbs.

The point of my tweet and question is with the sport maturing into good TV and attracting big money, there is tremendous risk and loss for a rider to crash out in a grand Tour. Losing Shleck cost Specialized what in lost marketing dollars? I’m sure more than we’d think. As a bike racer myself, you never want to see racers crash. All that’s between them and the road is lycra, a helmet, gloves, and shoes.

Photo: Leon van Bon

Couldn’t a Formula 1 type R&D effort take existing body armour from mountain biking and modify it for the road? Helmets used to weigh twice as much and not long ago look like you had a ice chest on your head. I don’t think the UCI or race promoters want anyone to crash, but sending Pros onto roads where crashes are expected seems irresponsible at best; especially when you consider what’s a stake.

NASCAR has made considering improvements to safety. Also see the work on Airbags for Alpinestars.

As we wrote earlier, we’re not covering the Tour as much this year – we are discussing it on Twitter with related links and on Facebook.

Photo uploaded by Leon van Bon | more from the Bike Hugger Photostream.

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