What's Cool In Road Cycling

How to Make Sprinting Safer by Theo Bos

Special lines on the road in bunch sprints

Rider Opinion: There has been quite a few high profile bunch sprint crashes recently, the worst being in the Tour of Poland and the horrendous outcome for Fabio Jakobsen. Blame the riders, but the organisers also don’t help. Dutch fast-man Theo Bos has a plan that could be the answer.

Milano-SanRemo: Michaelsen(TVM) Sciandri (wit shirt) Jalabert (Geel rechts). foto Cor Vos© 22-03-97 wielrennen
Sanremo’97

Theo Bos argues for a change in the sprint finishes of road races. In a discussion with AD (Dutch news website), the former Rabobank, Cervélo and MTN-Qhubeka rider mainly looks at the finishing straight and the barriers, but he is also keen for lines on the road. “I would welcome it if road races dare to experiment with it. See how it goes, polish it if necessary.”

wellens
No corners in the last 300 metres

The first measure that Bos wants to introduce is a change to the finish straight. He thinks that the last 300 metres of a stage should be in a straight line. “There is a rule that you cannot deviate from your line. But what if the sprint is on or after a corner? Then what is a straight line? We have to get rid of that.”

fans
Keep the fans back from the sprinters

In addition, he advocates double rows of barriers or fences of two metres high, so that the public cannot cause problems for the sprinters. According to Bos, those fences should preferably run diagonally upwards and have no protruding legs. “They already use them in the Tour, but that should be everywhere.”


Theo Bos sticking to his line

As a track cyclist Bos is used to working a lot with lines. In road races he thinks of three stripes on the road: one in the middle of the road and two on the side, about a metre from the barriers. “You then get so-called ‘sprinters’ lane along the fences, just like on the track. If you are in that section as the front rider, you are not allowed to come out. This prevents riders from wandering across the road,” referring to sprinters and lead-out riders.

tdf17 sagan
Sagan on the barriers

“If you are at the head of the peloton at three hundred metres in the sprinters’ section, then you stay there. Coming out means relegation. If you overtake riders from behind, you can get out of the box, otherwise you cannot pass it,” he says. Passing in the box next to the fence is prohibited. “So you can no longer dive into small gaps, like Sagan in the Tour. But you no longer get the situation that the front rider shuts the door.”

sprint
A fair sprint up the middle of the road

The line in the middle of the road is mainly there as a reference point: “Sometimes that is not so easy, you also look around you and behind you. You have a handle with such a line. You can also enter a line from the keirin: cross two lines and you go home immediately.”

sprinters lane
You can’t come out of the sprinter’s lane

Bos’s Main Points:
1. The last three hundred metres of flat stages should be straight. Bos: “There is a rule that you cannot deviate from your line. But what if the sprint is on or after a corner? Then what is a straight line? We have to get rid of that. You sprint straight, on a straight road.”

2. Double fences or two meter high fences, so that fans can’t hang over them. “Riders are often hit in the sprint by cameras, phones, selfie sticks… and I don’t know what else.”

3. The barriers run diagonally upwards, without any protruding legs. “Self-explanatory, I think. They already use them in the Grand Tours, like the Tour de France, but that should be everywhere.”

4. Three lines on the road in the last 300 metres. One right in the middle of the road, and two less than a metre from the barriers. “You then get so-called sprinters’ lane along the fences. Just like on the track, actually. If you are in that section as the front rider, you are not allowed to come out. This prevents riders from crossing the road – sprinters, but also sprint lead-out men. If you are at the head of the peloton at three hundred meters in the sprinters’ section, then you stay there. Coming out means being declassed. If you overtake riders from behind, you are allowed to leave the box, otherwise you cannot cross the line.”

5. In the sprinters’ section, you are not allowed to pass next to the fence. Bos: “So you can no longer dive into small gaps. But you also no longer get the situation that the front rider shuts the door – with all the consequences that entails. Anyone who passes between the rider and the fence in the sprinters section will be demoted.”

6. The line in the middle of the road serves as a reference so that sprinters can sprint straight ahead more easily. “Sometimes that is not so easy, you also look around you and behind. You have a handle with such a line. Crossing half the road from the sprinters section: disqualification.”

pologne 2020 stage 1
We don’t want to see this again

UCI jury member Joey Ermens commented to AD that he is happy with the proposal of the former rider. “I think it is important to involve the race organisers as they play an important role in the success of the initiative,” said Ermens. “In my opinion this is the task of the teams to train their riders, from an early age. But I think it is certainly good to test this.”

# Thank’s to Dutch news website AD for the quotes. #

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