Giro d’Italia forced to drop plans for 'life-threatening' fastest descender competition

Tom Cary
A number of cyclists have criticised the idea - AP

Giro d’Italia race organisers have abandoned plans for a fastest descender competition at this year’s race after riders slammed it as “life-threatening”.

The controversial plans  which would have seen riders awarded €500 prizes for producing the quickest speeds on descending sections of the three-week course, with the overall fastest rider pocketing €5,000  only became public days ago.

But they quickly gave rise to concerns from riders and even officials from the UCI, cycling’s world governing body.

Wout Poels, Team Sky’s Dutch rider, tweeted that incentivising recklessness could prove “life-threatening”, while Trek-Segafredo’s Jasper Stuyven said organisers should be “ashamed of themselves”.

Tom van Damme, the president of the UCI Road Commission, had described the new competition as “an unacceptable idea” that went against current measures to improve the safety of professional cycling.

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He said he had personally asked Giro organisers RCS to drop their plans.

A statement from RCS Sport said on Wednesday: "The spirit of the initiative was to highlight an important skill which is an integral part of a cycle race without putting the riders' safety in jeopardy.

"Rider safety is, and remains, the priority of the Giro and the race organisers. "Comments have been made suggesting that this initiative could be potentially misunderstood and generate behaviours not in line with the safety principle.

"The race organisers have taken these comments on board and change an initiative that could be misinterpreted.

"Therefore the race organisers have decided to eliminate all such classification and prize money as per the race regulations, leaving the timekeeping of the descents purely as statistical data for the fans."

The 100th edition of the Giro d’Italia starts in Sardinia on Friday, May 5, and concludes three weeks later in Milan on Sunday, May 28.

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