I watched this in disbelief on Sunday’s Paris Roubaix, the sight of professional cyclists running across a closed level crossing, just in front of a train travelling at huge speed (in the photo above, the train is travelling well over 100mph). These people are idiots, it was incredibly close to them, they should not only get sporting sanctions but also criminal prosecution to avoid any impressionable viewers thinking it’s ok & copying them (it IS a criminal offence). It’s serious stupidity, it’s reckless & shows a total disregard for the position of responsibility they hold as role models & sporting icons.
However you look at things, this aspect of cheating is much worse than doping (it is cheating, it’s specifically written into the UCI rules that it’s forbidden). Doping ruins the image of our sport, it creates false winners & can cause physical & mental damage to one person, but attempting to cheat in the manner seen at the level crossing is much more damaging. It also ruins the image of our sport, it can also create a false result, but it risks lives of others, not just the life of the idiot running across the level crossing. The lives of those using the transport system are also at risk, but this behaviour sets an example to those watching at home, perhaps young impressionable riders wanting to emulate their mentally deficient heroes. This is where the real damage could be done, somebody will be watching & have seen easily recognisable riders who are looked up to, like Wiggins, French champion Démare (and many more) behaving like fools & do the same. Now lets consider how many companies want these types riders to say their using their products, this is because people are influenced by them, they want to do & things & use things that their heroes do, copying idiotic behaviour works in exactly the same way.
Now some say, “it’s in the heat of battle”, that’s garbage. Nobody who’s a cycling fan can say this type of thing is ok, then condemn footballers for attacking each other on the pitch, it’s all irresponsible behaviour & should all be dealt with in the same manner, sporting & criminal sanctions. Cycling is ‘our’ sport, so we often find ourselves defending it to others, but this kind of behaviour has to be clamped down on & I can’t defend it. It would take just one incident where the top riders are removed for this kind of thing & it would never happen again. The AOS races are big commercial events, so there must be pressure felt by the officials to not take action, whether voiced or not. But that’s no excuse, the UCI need to hold an enquiry into why the commissaires failed to act in any effective manner during this incident. I’m a little miffed by this, some will laugh it off, but we were very close to seeing a fatality live on TV. This is bike racing, it’s not life or death, no matter how much a rider wants to win. This was reported in all the UK press, it damages our sport & makes football pitch incidents look inconsequential, somebody could easily have died, we need to make sure it never happens again.
If the complaint from the rail authorities is upheld, do you think that puts the entire future of this race in the balance. Would you laugh off this behaviour then?