DQ 1st & 2nd (3rd & 4th) from Omloop Het Nieuwsblad??

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Mike Crum, of all people, left a comment yesterday about what I thought about the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad situation where the lead group of riders rode on the sidewalk instead of the cobbles, after the UCI had explicitly explained that riders were going to be disqualified for doing so.  Here is a link to the Cyclingnews article.

I actually hadn’t read anything about it and thought it is an interesting topic, with more than one side.

I’m a little on the fence about this.  There are rules, I guess, that prohibit riders from not riding on the road.  But, like Greg Van Avermaet said, the rule is nearly impossible to enforce.  They didn’t enforce it once again, so the next time it will most likely go the same.

I am sort of surprised hearing about this.  I have raced in Belgium a bunch and have always ridden the smoothest line, even if that means in the dirt next to the cobbles. But, things change.

I guess if they really want to enforce the rule then they need to physically block the “alternate lines” initially.  Because, obviously, the riders are going to ride on the smoothest choice if there is one.

And they need to enforce the rule.  And in this case, enforcing that rule would have kicked at least the first 4 riders out of the race.  Maybe even many of the guys finishing directly behind them.  And that wouldn’t have pleased the organization one bit.  Like Cyclingnews wrote, the break was a “dream podium” for the organizers.  And sometimes the organizers override the officials.  Many times.

I had a similar experience, not exactly but close.  And I was relegated in placings.  ‘

It was at the Coor’s Angels Cup in Los Angeles .I had won the Coor’s Devil’s Cup and this was the sister race.  It was a tight criterium, miss and out format.

Huge Walton, my team mate, was off the front.  I think he might have been with Thurlow Rogers, but don’t quote me on that.  Anyway, I was in the field, sprinting each lap, trying not to get pulled.

When there were maybe 15-20 riders left, I was at the back on the finish stretch.  I sprinted up the gutter and flew past the field, as they sat up after the sprint.  I just kept going.   They kept pulling the field and I was just riding around by myself. Eventually the race was over.  I think I finished 3rd, but that might be wrong too.  Probably 4th or 5th.

Anyway, we were all stoked, with Huge winning the race and getting all the primes.  We went back to the hotel to change and come back to awards.  When we got back, the results had changed and I was something like 19th.

I asked someone who said I had been pulled because the official had deemed I have left the road. He ruled something like going below the blue line on the track, thus, left the road to passed the peloton.

The course had barriers and there were thousands of spectators.  We called the official and I asked how I could leave the road?  I told him that most everyone that is sane would consider the road to be from one curb to the other curb.  Everything between was fair.  He disagreed and said he ruling would stand.

Anyway, we had already won the race and it was all good.  Of course, I was pissed, thinking I had been cheated, but now it is just a funny memory.

Back to the original topic.

If i would have been in that break, I would have ridden exactly like the break did. Those guys have ridden those roads 100’s of times and probably have never ridden on the cobbles.  The line they were riding is the historic line I’d guess.   I assume they knew that they weren’t going to be DQ’d or they wouldn’t have done it.  It was probably a risk/reward deal, them knowing that the risk was minimal.

Does that make it right, well, sort of.  They won the race and didn’t suffer any penalty from breaking the rules.  And there were lots of other guys doing exactly the same thing.

If they are going to threaten the riders with disqualification, then they are going to have to do it for it to have any teeth.

I honestly think the rule sucks and part of the beauty of these races is the skill to negotiate the course, no matter where that might be.

Caught in the act.

31 thoughts on “DQ 1st & 2nd (3rd & 4th) from Omloop Het Nieuwsblad??

  1. Jim

    I come at this from the standpoint of a sports official in another sport.
    Contrary to what you might think, rules are not very difficult to enforce at all. It simply takes someone with the stones to do it. If they lack that quality, they should not be an official. They are simply a chamois follower with a very good seat.
    I can be pretty sure that if the rule is enforced the first time (or two), the riders will think about it the next time.
    Who might be in the break is completely irrelevant to enforcing the rules. The rules are there for everyone. Break them and suffer the results.
    Why would they need to block the “alternative line”? The riders know the rules so if they use the “alternative”, they will pay a price if they are caught. It is not up to the officials or the organizers to block all the possibilities, it is up to the riders to follow the rules they are given.

  2. Gabby

    It actually looks as if Sagan is trying to stay on the curb. And later when they are playing cat and mouse inside the last 2 k everyone but him goes onto the left side sidewalk. It’s like he heard the announcement and was trying is best to adhere while not significantly disadvantagingredients himself.

  3. Your Mama

    If you don’t want them leaving the road then block the area. Also, US officials are bigger pricks than European officials. Whatever, leave it alone.

  4. Fausto

    The organizers and officials should be more concerned about all the issues with road safety and moto/car problems than the sidewalk riding.

  5. Buck Turgidson - Burpleson Air Force Base

    We should be more concerned with the lack of spending on the US military.

    Look at these charts, we’re in serious danger. I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks.



  6. KrakatoaEastofJava

    Rules are rules, and then there are situations where humans who are literally in the middle of suffering will simply take the “path of least suffering” as an automatic default–rule or no rule.

    Remember, old classic races like Paris-Roubaix were not created specifically to put racers on old cobble-stoned roads, but rather ON ROADS. Back then, cobble-stoned roads WERE the roads. The ONLY roads. Tradition kept the races going on these old courses, even as smoother pavement options became widespread.

    Do you not think that the racers back in 1935 chose the smoothest path possible? Of course they did! I’ll bet they did it in 1897 as well. They got through it any way they could.

    If you want tp keep the riders on the cobbles, then you either have to put in more cobbles, or you have to take out the smooth stuff off to the side. But if you’re expected to race 150 miles while battering the hell out of your ass and forearms, trust me, you’re going to seek relief every so often.

  7. SB

    Later in the race, the entire chasing group jumped the curbs on a turn in the city, hopping over the sidewalks to shorten the line. So really it should be places 1-20+ dq’d.

    Agree, this is a silly rule if not enforced.

    But remember the reason this rule exists is because of that crash a few years back that killed (nearly killed?) a spectator when the rider tried to move up via the sidewalk. So imho it’s a valid rule to have.

  8. conrad

    Military effectiveness has a price. The Donald is going to defeat ISIS his first 30 days in office. Oh, wait….

  9. donkybhoy

    If rules are not enforced then there is no point.

    Cycling sucks a lot, professionally because so many choose to break the rules, from riding on paths (it is called ROAD racing, not path racing) to doping and everything in between.

    DQ them, they broke the rules.

  10. Mike crum

    Steve, thanks for your reply . I watch all races on YouTube .. From the 70’s – current, and they do race on the best line . Path sidewalks etc. very dumb having a “strict ” rule then not following it. . Thanks for the reply.

  11. Carlos

    The rule is clearly a suggestion for best practice. Just a guideline. At least that’s Steve’s interpretation of the centerline rule in a crosswind.

  12. Bolas Azules

    I’ve never been a fan of the overreaching official or the hardline rule book guy. Racing is hard enough without having to battle some great riders on the road (or track), weather conditions, equipment failures, bad support and a meager prize list and then have to fight these former Cat. 6 riders throwing their power-trips around.

    Screw the petty rules AND LET’S RACE!

  13. Bolas Azules

    On another thought. What if an American litigious thought was applied. As SB stated –

    “But remember the reason this rule exists is because of that crash a few years back that killed (nearly killed?) a spectator when the rider tried to move up via the sidewalk.”

    What if the organizers and their insurance company put this ‘rule’ into effect in case some accident with damages did happen to a spectator and they simply point to the rule and place the liability solely on the rider, their team and their sponsor washing their dirty little hands of any responsibility?

    O.K. it’s the skeptic in me…so

    Screw the petty rules AND LET’S RACE!

  14. Larry T

    I agree 100% If they’re not going to penalize anyone for riding on the sidewalk why make a big deal with the warnings before the race? They just (as usual) make themselves look silly. They might end up having to go over the course before the race (they’re out there anyway putting up direction arrows and marking the dangerous aspects of the course) and mark the course better, perhaps with some paint that doesn’t last too long? Or as others have noted, put some barriers on the places someone would most likely gain an advantage over those riding on the cobbles. What I DON’T want is for things to end up like F1 where nobody knows who won until the “race stewards” play back the video and then spend a bunch of time making up their minds on who should be DQ’d.

  15. Davey

    If they don’t want them to ride on the pavement/bike paths they should put barriers on them. Look at the Taaienberg. In the early season races like Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Dwars door Vlaanderen the riders stay in the gutter on the side of the road. For Tour of Flanders, there are spectators and barriers in the gutter forcing everyone to ride the cobbles.

    When racing flat out, of course riders are going to look for an easier option.

  16. sillypuddy

    I’ve always enjoyed watching the racers ride in the gutter, jumping over curbs, off and on sidewalks. They always show off those superb bike handling skills. Makes an exciting race even more so. On anouther note, I think your mama needs his ba ba., a good burp and off to bed. I think he gets crabby when he’s tuckered out( I mean when he ain’t got the rent).

    Sillypuddy OUT!

  17. Erik Vanderaerden

    In this incident, the rules were not enforced, because the official deemed that nobody had been endangered. No rider went behind the crowd, or did anything dangerous, they simply took the smoothest part of the course. I say let them do it, it’s a little advantage to the riders who have done the recon, or who have the skills and the foresight to be in the right spot at the right time.

  18. orphan

    At one point I saw the lead group on the sidewalk, the chase group saw them so they went to the sidewalk too. The official with the lead group just honked and motioned. The official with the chase group sped up and passed the group and moved over onto the sidewalk forcing the group back onto the cobbles. If they are going to have the rule it needs to be enforced consistently for all groups.


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