Sky Procycling considering possible legal action over Flecha car collision
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Monday, July 11, 2011

Sky Procycling considering possible legal action over Flecha car collision

by Conal Andrews at 12:48 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Injury
France Télévision apologises for crash involving Spaniard and Johnny Hoogerland

Juan Antonio FlechaOne day after yesterday’s incident at the Tour de France where a car hit Johnny Hoogerland and Juan Antonio Flecha, the latter’s Sky Procycling team is determining whether it will take legal action over the matter. Its rider was injured in the crash, which occurred when the driver of a France Télévision vehicle performed a dangerous overtaking manoeuvre with 37 kilometres remaining.

Flecha was knocked to the ground, while Hoogerland was sent flying and landed on a barbed wire fence, necessitating 33 sutures. Both managed to reach the finish, but lost out on their chances of taking the stage win.

“It was plain for everyone to see - that crash shouldn't have happened,” said Sky Procycling team principal Dave Brailsford today. “Everybody saw it, everyone saw the severity of it so I don't think we need to fan the flames of that anymore. Once you've got the facts then you can decide and evaluate.”

He emphasised that no decision had been taken as yet. “We're jumping ahead of ourselves if we start talking about options at this point - we've got to determine what they are first. And only when we have a clear picture can we decide which option we may or may not wish to pursue.”

Brailsford expanded on that to Reuters, saying that the team was in talks with the race organisers about the matter. “We're discussing with (tour organisers) ASO to establish the facts. That's the first step to determine on the best course of action and whether legal action is appropriate,” he said.

“ASO reacted swiftly and appropriately to the situation. We're working fine together behind closed doors.”

Flecha was unable to train on today’s rest day, instead going to hospital for checks. That visit confirmed that he didn’t have any fractures, but he did get stitches. Brailsford said a decision will be taken tomorrow in relation to whether or not he will continue in the race.

Meanwhile the company involved issued a formal apology late yesterday in relation to the actions of the driver in question.

“France Televisions would like apologise to the riders, the teams and Amaury Sport Organisation after the accident caused on the route of the ninth stage of the Tour de France by a technical assistance vehicle covering the race.

“France Televisions can only deeply regret the incident that took place today and will fully respect the measures taken by ASO to further strengthen security in and around the race.”

The subject has been a major topic of conversation on today’s rest day, and race organiser Christian Prudhomme called the riders in question to personally express his regret at what happened. It echoes what he said in an ASO statement about the subject.

"We apologize to the riders and teams. Two accidents related to the media in a few days on the Tour de France, a motorcycle then a car photographer and then a technical vehicle, they are two accidents too many and even a scandal,” he said.

“We were on a narrow road. Thomas Voeckler requested a bottle. I announced on Radio Tour, which is the channel that everyone must listen to, that the other cars must move aside and give way to cars team managers. This car did not. It not only didn’t move aside, but it struck two of the five riders and it could have hit five .”

The vehicle and its driver has been removed from the race. Several journalists have stated that the France Télévisions vehicles are well known for driving aggressively in the race convoy and elsewhere.

The company is an official partner of the race, but ASO appears to be taking this matter seriously. It is likely that French police will also study footage of what happened.


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