Safety issues bring peloton to halt and create Hautacam hill climb at Tour des Pyrénées

Riders stopped mid-way through stage 2 to protest safety factors
Riders stopped mid-way through stage 2 to protest safety factors (Image credit: CIC-Tour Féminin International des Pyrénées)

The second day of racing at the CIC-Tour Féminin International des Pyrénées should have focused on an epic, hard day of racing for the women’s pro peloton with 82km propelling 24 teams to a final 13.3km showdown on the legendary ski resort, Hautacam. Instead, rider protests over a plethora of safety concerns abbreviated the real racing to just a hill climb.

Back up one day to the opening stage of the CIC-Tour Féminin International des Pyrénées. What should have been a straightforward, flat day of racing for 136 pro women in the field on Friday turned into a minefield of hazards. Random vehicles were allowed to move toward the peloton on a closed course, parked cars and trucks cluttered the finishing roads and pedestrians were allowed to arbitrarily wander back and forth across the field of play. Riders were forced to weave around some traffic in the final two kilometres.

Dangerous outcomes may have been averted in those moments, but lingering concerns and questions about safety generated a firestorm of overnight negotiations, led by Adam Hansen, president of the Cyclistes Professionnels Associés (CPA). The head of the riders’ union held late-night negotiations with teams, UCI officials and race organisers, saying that the organisers would put “different measures” in place for stage 2, namely additional police motorbikes to sweep the course and eliminate dangers.

“11:30pm and finally spoken to everyone.... There was a call this evening with the Organiser, team representative, @women_cpa and myself. The organiser is putting in different measures for tomorrow to have more Police motorbikes. The teams and the @cpacycling push for guarantee's for the safety of the women. After the call I spoke to the UCI to update on the situation of our call and tomorrow you will hear more. Good luck and stay safe,” Hansen wrote on social media after stage 1.

He then posted a second Tweet on Saturday morning thanking all parties involved in negotiations - CPA Women representative Alex Cappellotto, teams’ representative Jolien D’hoore, the UCI and the race organiser, Association Française des Coureures Cyclistes. He again said “I hope all goes well.”

His hopes didn’t hold for long. The first 25km of Saturday’s stage 2 were neutralised, making the shortest route of the three-day stage race, originally 96km, even shorter. Riders were still concerned about what safety measures were in place for the second day of racing, specifically the increased number of motorbikes now in close proximity to the peloton.

Then racing commenced, but for only about 28km before the peloton came to a complete stop on the course. More roadside discussions ensued regarding the manner in which the motorbikes passed through the peloton, many riders saying the motos were moving dangerously. 

After a discussion with officials, Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Human Powered Health) addressed the peloton to say riders would proceed in another neutral procession to the foot of the finish climb and race from there. The race commissioners were noted as saying, “Safety was met throughout the route” and “It was decided to resume noting that if they did not continue it would count as abandonment”.

However, Eurosport/ GCN cameras caught sight of a rider signalling a stray car parked on the course as the peloton sped through a populated area with 21.2km to go. 

Stage 2 ultimately reached a completion with Marta Cavalli (FDJ SUEZ) winning atop the Hautacam, and dethroning Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (AG Insurance-Soudal Quickstep) as the race leader. 

Stage 3 was scheduled to proceed as planned for the final day of racing Sunday, 126km from Nay to Bosdarros. Cavalli carried a three-second lead over Moolman-Pasio for the GC title, and Antonia Niedermaier (Canyon-SRAM) eight seconds back.

Adam Hansen tweet after stage 1:

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Tweets during stage 2 when riders stopped:

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Jackie Tyson
North American Production editor

Jackie has been involved in professional sports for more than 30 years in news reporting, sports marketing and public relations. She founded Peloton Sports in 1998, a sports marketing and public relations agency, which managed projects for Tour de Georgia, Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and USA Cycling. She also founded Bike Alpharetta Inc, a Georgia non-profit to promote safe cycling. She is proud to have worked in professional baseball for six years - from selling advertising to pulling the tarp for several minor league teams. She has climbed l'Alpe d'Huez three times (not fast). Her favorite road and gravel rides are around horse farms in north Georgia (USA) and around lavender fields in Provence (France), and some mtb rides in Park City, Utah (USA).