While the International Cycling Union (UCI) expressed its sadness
over Demoitie's death on Monday without discussing the circumstances
of the accident, the riders' association (CPA) has demanded a probe
and improved safety measures.
Demoitie, 25, died after being run over by a race motorbike during
the Gent-Wevelgem classic - only the latest in a string of incidents
involving race vehicles over the last year.
Slovakia's Peter Sagan and Portuguese Sergio Paulinho were sent
crashing to the ground by motorbikes during last year's Vuelta,
while Belgian Greg van Avermaet, who was soloing towards victory,
was dismounted by a motorbike at the Clasica San Sebastian.
At the Tour de France, a motorbike collided with Jakob Fuglsang
during a mountain stage while Frenchman Sebastien Chavanel and New
Zealand's Jesse Sergent were knocked down by neutral service cars.
Motorbikes have multiple functions during a race: some transport
reporters and photographers, others race stewards and the regulators
who decide who can overtake and when.
"Must tragic circumstances be the marker for change?" Australian
rider Michael Rogers asked recently.
After one his riders was knocked by a motorbike during the La Drome
Classic race last month, BMC manager Jim Ochowicz wrote to the UCI
"This has got to stop before the headlines in the future are of a
more disturbing nature than what we have seen in 2015 and now again
in 2016," he wrote.
"To the UCI, I am turning to you for answers and solutions."
Despite the recent incidents, the UCI regulations only state that
"organizers shall demand that press vehicles be driven by
experienced drivers, familiar with cycle races and knowing how to
maneuver. These drivers must hold the license of a vehicle driver
for a road event."
Getting the license, however, is a mere formality.
While limiting the number of vehicles involved in a race would
certainly help, that in itself would not solve the problem.
"Motos are a necessity in our sport for both security and media
presence. It's their conduct and the direction that needs
governance," said Irish rider Dan Martin.
Some 70 motorbikes are on the world's biggest race, the Tour de
France, although only about half of them can regularly overtake the
Tour organizers Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) have imposed
training courses on the motorbike riders after Dutchman Johnny
Hoogerland was sent flying into barbed wire by a French TV car
during the 2011 Tour de France.
[to top of second column]
"We have two mandatory courses with the French gendarmerie in
Fontainebleau (in the Paris suburbs)," Bruno Thibout, a former
French professional cyclist who now rides a motorbike on ASO races,
told Reuters on Tuesday.
"We also give advice to each other. I'm one of the very experienced
guys - I've been a pro rider, but also drove cars in races.
"We are under tremendous pressure, we know there is no room for
ASO own the biggest races in the world with the exception of the
Giro d'Italia and the world championships.
They bought the Vuelta (Tour of Spain) two years ago and after last
year's incidents sent chief regulator Jean-Michel Monin to the race
to check how traffic was being regulated.
"The riders there were less experienced," said Thibout.
According to ASO competitions director Thierry Gouvenou, while ASO
have the means to improve safety, other organizers may not.
"The problem is the sport is still largely amateur," he told
"Some races are still organized by amateurs and volunteers, that's
the weak point. Also, some organizers have VIP motorbikes on their
races. It should not be possible," he added.
According to Thibout, teams and riders can also help improve safety.
"Sometimes the riders, with their earpieces (which allow the sports
director to give their instructions), do not hear well the sound of
the motors so they can't hear us coming behind them," he explained.
"Also, some riders move off the peloton brusquely, which is
something we would not do when I was a rider," added Thibout, whose
career spanned 1993 to 2004.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by XXXX)
[© 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2016 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.