Bad Few Days for Crashing

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Just finished watching the finish of the 2nd stage of the Giro. Man, that wasn’t good. Taylor Phinney fell when Roberto Ferrari made a right hand turn 200 meters from the line and clipped Mark Cavendish’s wheel. I think that Taylor’s Giro is done, but hopefully not. It looked like his ankle was twisted pretty good from the video. Ferrari is going to be removed from the race I’d think. Maybe not. I’ll try to post a link to the video, but there is a Farnese Vini – Selle Italia rider that bunny hops Cavendish when he is on the ground. It is pretty unreal.

Talking about crashing, Speedweek on the East coast is officially over. I vowed never to go there again a few years ago when I crashed 4 times in the first two races. When you run out of cycling gloves because they are all destroyed from falling, I decided to call it a week and just train. Those races are so, so stupid that you’d be an idiot to attend unless someone was forcing you to. They had to stop the race there on Friday night twice because nearly the whole field fell. That isn’t unusual there. Every year it happens. Never again.

But, Saturday, something different occurred. According to this article at Velonews, there was a “road rage” instance on Saturday night that left Isaac Howe laying on the ground with a broken collarbone. It is a little sketchy, but it seems this guy, Jonathan Atkins, of Newnan, Georgia, got pissed at Howe for some reason and intentionally knocked him down. Supposedly Atkins was handcuffed by the police sometime during the evening too. Wow.

I’m not sure what to think about that. Of course it is all bad. There is no place in the sport for anything of the sort. It seems to be getting to become more of a contact sport every year. That is what pisses me off about touching people. There should be no, absolutely no leeway enforcing that rule. You touch someone on purpose, you’re out of the race. The problem is we see it everyday at the finishes of the big European races, so everyone tries to emulate it.

But crashing someone on purpose is a completely different animal. I couldn’t tell you what the suspension should be, but getting the police involved doesn’t seem out of line. A broken collarbone is minor compared to what could have happened to many people here. I still don’t understand USAC ruling when Keough and Bahati get into it at Dana Point a couple years ago and half the field fell. They acted like it was all part of bike racing and since no one protested, they decided to drop it. It was bullshit. The amount of equipment destroyed was outrageous, not even mentioning the riders hurt. I would have made both of them sit out a few months.

This guy in Speedweek, Atkins, is going to have an issue, I assume. Sounds like there might be charges pressed legally. Seems alright to me. The sport is dangerous enough not to allow intention violence to occur at any level.

Dana Point Criterium was last night. It was the 2 year anniversary of this stupidness.

Here’s the video of the Giro crash. Go in about 3:45 to see the overhead shot. Thanks Ken.

21 thoughts on “Bad Few Days for Crashing

  1. Ken

    Here’s a link to the video of the crash–it replays from overhead camera at 3:45.

  2. Selfprez R. Vation

    Atkins is the only guy I have raced against who alters what I do in a race because of fear of physical retribution. He has intentionally hooked me on TRAINING rides! There are comments going both ways on this in VeloNews, but Atkins’ story is complete B.S. He claims there are two lines going into the turn but only one line coming out. First, folks were going through the entire turn three and four abreast on prime laps! Second, the crash happened well after the corner.
    BTW, I am posting this under a pseudonym out of fear of getting shot. (Please don’t publish my email.)

  3. Jim

    Howe taunted the big gorilla Atkins and got what he deserved. Atkins got what he deserved too. Who cares about either of these guys.

    Wouter Weylandt died a year ago (to be clear in an accident),the Keough mess was the same calendar time, sirens going all night here. Must be the usual spring madness going on.

  4. H Luce

    Battery is the rude, harmful, or offensive touching of another person; if a weapon or some other instrument is used to do the touching, or if the injury caused is severe enough, it could be aggravated battery. Apparently Atkins was detained at the scene but not arrested. It’s up to the DA to file charges, and he can do so at a later time and cause a warrant to be issued for Atkins’ arrest. That’s the criminal side of it. If there’s a conviction and Atkins doesn’t have a criminal record, then there could be a diversion, otherwise it would probably be probation and anger management classes – it just depends on state law, how the courts treat this, how the judge is feeling that day, and so on.

    On the civil side of it, Howe just has to prove the elements of battery and show that Atkins deliberately did it, more likely than not, which is a lesser standard than beyond a reasonable doubt. If, as the story seems to indicate, the conduct was outrageous on Atkins’ part, Howe might get a pretty big punitive damages award, too…

    Taunting is not an affirmative defense to battery.

  5. Mike Seal

    USACycling says that Atkins is 48, assuming that he’s the same guy referenced. That can’t be possible that that age – no way. Unless he gets MORE stupid as he gets older, as opposed to the normal trend.

  6. DavidA

    Ive always said that WWE and Cage fighting are the next transition from Pro/elite bike racing…..Caged combat….

  7. Jim

    This touching thing…I can see if kids were taught contact drills here and clean racing it would be ok here, but some guys seem to think WWIII is necessary. Might be some Merican deal.

  8. JT

    I believe Lakatosh got a 2 year suspension for the infamous ‘carney’ incident out in T-town back in 2004 (or was it 2005?) I was in the infield that night, it was a circus…

  9. Botanybay

    I think that at a certain point (usually in more elite racing), riders tend to lose their fear of possibly causing others to crash, and just move their bikes where they feel they need to put them (in Sprints). They trust that the riding skills of those behind them are adequate enough to keep them safe. They tend to see only what is ahead of them and (they feel) that the willingness to focus that way is the only way to win such sprints. In other words, these guys routinely gamble in this manner. Sometimes they get caught in situations where the move is onbiously reckless, but rarely does anyone make such a call unless a bad crash happens.

  10. devin

    wow i read on twitter while at work that their was a big crash,,, Wow,, Cav went down like a ton of bricks,,, Changing direction like that Wow,,

  11. Paul Thoresen

    what pains me is that American “Pros” are spending big money to go race in a field with nobody watching and they call this racing, what a joke

  12. aki

    I went down in a similar situation as Cav’s, albeit at a Tues night race for no prizes and at a much lower speed (about 30 mph). It was just before the last turn of the last lap of the race.

    It would be the last race of my 27th season of racing. I’d never broken a bone, ever, until that evening, and I did mainly crits for all those years. The guy that switched across my line had done the same thing in the same Tues night series a couple years prior. The toll was me (two pelvic fractures – wheelchair for a bit, then a cane, and back to my hourly job 8 weeks later, PT ended about 6? months later), 5 broken ribs for another guy (or something like it), some dental surgery for the first EMT guy that helped out (he helped me before he went and got looked at himself), a lot of broken bikes, etc.

    The switcher and his teammate posed for a picture with me on the deck behind them.

    The switcher has been racing pretty much as long as I have. He knows the drill, knows what he’s doing.

    I realized after the fact that my out of pocket expenses could have bought every rider in the field a Contour HD cam.

    Because no one (including me – I left my helmet cam rig off, and, ironically, the rider that took me out asked me before the race if I’d be wearing it that night and I replied in the negative) had any video/photographic evidence, the switching rider got off with an off season suspension, after he finished the last bit of season (racing etc).

    After that I realized that based on the rulebook I could start a pretty nasty way of winning races. Me and a few buddies would take turns taking out the field in the last turn. Each of us would get suspended for 20 days, allowing the racer to come back 3 weeks later to do it again. We’d literally sweep the field off the designated winner’s wheel, taking them down wholesale.

    I proposed an escalating suspension schedule to the USAC, an exponential one. 20 days, 200 days, 1000 days (something like that), for first, second, and third offenses. The switcher had caused a massive crash about a week and a half before he crashed me (and because of that earlier crash my whole team – except me – swore off crits). If he’d been suspended like he should have, he wouldn’t have been racing the evening he took me and all those other riders down.

    I’m a cyclist, not a pro. My next big goal could be in 5 or 10 years, depending on how fatherhood treats me. Suspending me for even three years (1000 days) for an offense wouldn’t kill me mentally. Therefore such a penalty should be reasonable for someone that, like me, bike races almost because they’re addicted to it.

    USAC never even considered my suspension ladder. I still think it’s valid, but I think the 3rd offense should be longer (1500 days for those offenses that can get up to a 20 day suspension on first offense). The reason they didn’t consider the escalating penalties? They don’t track things like suspensions.

    So what, right? It’s just a bike race. There can be real consequences to these intentional crashes. It doesn’t even take an intentional one – this year a bike racer died at a race I promote. He fell over on a straight, innocuous topple at about 24-26 mph. 14 hours later he was gone.

    Any of those above crashes could have resulted in a similar outcome. The switcher and his victims were lucky that no one died in all his crashes, that no one was “severely” hurt (if breaking down due to pain a few times in a day is not “severely hurt”), that everyone (but not every bike) eventually recovered.

    I can’t speak about the Atkins/Howe thing because I don’t see any proof (just like when I broke my pelvis). However based on the video that Ferrari sprinter should be ejected and heavily fined. If they don’t do that it’ll be open season on the good sprinters. “Here, we’ll pay the fine plus 50k Euros if you take out Farrar/Cav/Whoever”.

    I love good racing. I hate dirty racing.

  13. H Luce

    Let’s see, there are about three times as many riders as spectators (counting race officials)… The American public actually like dirty sports, hence the popularity of “Rollerball” and Roller Derby where underhanded tactics are commonplace, and ice hockey where it’s a tactic to smack another player upside the head with a hockey stick or the like. The crowd goes wild when they see this stuff. If the same thing were done routinely at bike races, riders deliberately crashing other riders, throwing rabbit punches, grabbing at bike seats and handlebars, bike racing would be a lot more popular here, don’t you think? You could probably get people to pay $20 each just to watch, especially if there’s lots of “action” and riders go down in bloody wrecks….

  14. JW

    Atkins wasn’t cuffed at the scene. He talked to the police. Maybe he was standing with his hands behind his back., but he wasn’t cuffed.

  15. Jim

    Sean, Rahsaan threw his glasses at Keough after the crash – that’s what he got sanctioned for.

    aki – lifetime ban following 2nd offense. Who cares about that guy – he’s put too many people in the hospital. In case a civil trial is warranted.

  16. Mark

    But why didn’t Keough get sanctioned?

    From the rulebook, note that intent does not matter:
    1Q7. No rider may make an abrupt motion so as to interfere with the forward progress of another rider, either intentionally or by accident [relegation or disqualification; possible 20 days suspension if a crash results].

  17. Jed Schneider

    I raced with Atkins a lot. He’s a big dude, agressive, and can be scary intimidating, but I can’t really say I’ve ever seen him do anything crazy intentionally. If anything he was always very respectful of me. I wont race those speedweek races, and two are within 40 minutes of my house. Never have, never will.

  18. Calvin Jones

    The story continues:

    I would think that each sport would do its utmost to keep such conflicts and issues “in-house”. It is easy to empathize with the call for legal proceedings, but I hope it does not prove to be a new direction for cycling. There are many facets to this event, and accountability by the all players is close to heart of the matter, or so I am thinking.


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