Sept. 20, 2013–By Jen Benepe
Officials Overheard saying “These are good enough conditions for women.”
Female professional bike racers registered their protest against a top ranking Italian race after two stages that left many of them angry and afraid because of unfettered motorist traffic around them.
On the last day of the four stage Giro della Toscana Internationale Femmenile, 59 female pro racers refused to continue to ride after complaining in the prior two days that the race was dangerous.
After the second day of racing riders made their feelings known on Twitter with criticism and outrage directed mostly at the race organizer. Wrote Elisa Longo Borghini, @ElisaLongoB, “#GirodellaToscana is a HC race just because it leaves you with no words: traffic opened, cars everywhere…”
Tiffany Jane, @tiffanycromwellwrote, “Another hectic & crazy stage at Toscana finished in a bunch kick .. A game of dodge the traffic & stay upright. Happy to come out unscathed!”
On the third day of racing, a subset of the race participants, among them Vos, stopped racing and rode the remainder of the race at a controlled pace in protest, indirectly invalidating the results of the race. On day three after holding a general meeting with organizers, many of the big names left the race in disgust.
Other big names competing in what is considered the most important women’s bike race all year were Giorgia Bronzini , Marta Bastianelli, Tatiana Guderzo , Elisa Longo Borghini and Rossella Ratto, Trixi Worrack (Ger) , Emma Johansson (Swe) , Kirsten Wild (Ned) , Polona Batagelj (Slo), Eugenia Vysotska (Ukr) and Fabiana Fabiana (ITA).
Throughout the week riders repeatedly encountered cars on the course and a limited police presence. Often, only the front group had a police escort, and the remaining riders raced on roads open to traffic. The final stage, scheduled for midday in Florence, threatened to be even more dangerous.
On the fourth day, many of the important riders had left the race completely, leaving forty-nine riders to complete the last stage, which went to French rider Aude Biannic who rides for the Italian team SC Michela Fanina Rox. Claudia Häusler (Tibco-To The Top) won the overall classification in Vos’s absence.
Sports Directors also expressed their concern with the lack of safety. Orica-GreenEdge’s Martin Barras wrote in his stage report, “This stage was run through some of the worst traffic I have ever witnessed in a race. We come to expect this here every year but it is a small miracle everyday that we get through without getting the body bags out. That the Giro della Toscana is awarded the highest rating the UCI can bestow on an event is puzzling, to be polite.”
“I think it’s generally fairly well acknowledged that racing conditions in Italy are crazier than most places, but this week it seems to have risen above the normal level,” said Rachel Heal, team director for Optum. “In the caravan we have encountered oncoming cars and at times it seems we are driving with the traffic on open roads. That’s nothing compared to the danger of the riders facing the same conditions.”
Later on the team’s website Barras explained in detail what had happened in his view, and lamented the way in which organizers had forced the issue with riders.
“Our female riders always seem to find themselves in the position that they have to feel thankful for getting substandard conditions,” said Barras. “I overheard an official earlier in the week, commenting about the safety: ‘These are good enough conditions for the women.’”
The organizer Brunello Fanini reacted with bitterness, followed by threats to sue the racers for slander. He also defended the safety of the race, noting that there had been no crashes related to car traffic.
“The protest is disgraceful and self-serving – the jury has spoken of valid stage and without problems. To lose today are so-called big
names in cycling and women’s sector in general,” said Fanini. But on the day before the last stage, Fanini was said to have threatened the riders and to try to isolate the complainers in a large group meeting (see Barras’ account of the meeting.)
(stage 1) SUNDAY CLOSING WITH FLORENCE LUCCA –
Closing with a bang for the eighteenth edition of the Women’s Giro della Toscana International.
The final stage runs almost entirely on location in a few days that will host the World Championships professionals : the Lucca -Firenze , 99 km.
The city of Lucca protagonist returns to women’s cycling after the experience of the last two years, and after hosting a stage of the Tour of Italy Women , in ’93 , in fact, the walls were the scene of the arrival of the final fraction of the first organized tour by the company’s patron Brunello Fanini and success in that split came , coincidentally , the unforgettable Michela .
The start of this fraction very impressive, but not particularly challenging, is scheduled for 12.30 in Piazza Napoleone , the official start at 13.00 from Piazzale Don Aldo Mei .
After a round of walls and one of the ring road, the caravan will move to the Tuscan capital through Montecatini , Pistoia , Quarrata , Campi Bisenzio and then input with arrival in Florence in Piazza della Repubblica around 15.30.
On the starting line will be presented in 144 athletes , 25 teams , 30 nations represented ( with the absolute novelty of the presence of cyclists Thai and Korean ) and, above all , with all ( or almost all) the big race starting with the World Champion and Olympic Marianne Vos ( Ola ) , who has never written his name in gold , followed by the former world championship Giorgia Bronzini , Marta Bastianelli and Tatiana Guderzo , ending with the promising Elisa Longo Borghini and Rossella Ratto .
To hold in high regard there are also: Evelyn Stevens (USA), Trixi Worrack (Ger) , Emma Johansson ( Swe ) , Kirsten Wild ( Ned ) , Polona Batagelj ( Slo ) , Eugenia Vysotska ( Ukr ) and the evergreen Fabiana Fabiana .
The Tour of Tuscany , as always, is dedicated to the unforgettable champion Michela Fanini , the organization of society ” Michela Fanini Record Rox ” patron of Brunello Fanini .
(4) WINS IN TUSCANY ( LOST ) THE PROTEST
Sunday 15 wk . – 4th Stage: Lucca -Firenze , 99 km
FLORENCE WINS THE PROTEST …
Grand Duchess of Tuscany , but weighs the protest of the big
Florence – The first cut to the finish line was the French Aude Biannic (Michela Fanini Record Rox ) , but in fact there has not been the sprint .
Stage , ranking and (perhaps future … ) of the Giro upset by the sensational stance of a part of the group that decided not to take part in this last part , the other have traveled the entire path at a controlled rate .
According to a statement of the association of cyclists ” there would be the necessary conditions of security,” to convey the protest of the Italian representative Elisa Longo Borghini , Giorgia Bronzini and Marianne Vos . They, along with other big names ( Cantele , Guderzo ) have also opted to leave . Rossella Ratto , who was competing , it was then withdrawn just entered the Tuscan capital.
The race was held too ( and safe !) Pity for the aftermath because the Republic Square was packed with people , was a little ‘ disappointed by what happened.
” The race was very regular – said patron Brunello Fanini – the protest is disgraceful and self-serving – the jury has spoken of valid stage and without problems. To lose today are so-called big names in cycling and women’s sector in general. ”
Order arrival 4th Stage: Lucca – Florence, 99 km
1st Aude Biannic (Fra) , in 2’28 ” 28 – average 39,928 km / h – abb . 10 ”
2nd Liisi Rist (East), st – abb . 6 ”
3rd Jutatip Maneephan ( Tha ) , st – abb . 4 ”
4th Eugenia Wysotska ( Ukr ) , st
5th Edwuge Pitel (Fra) , st
6 ^ Lara Vieceli (Ita) , st
7 ^ Lisa Fischer ( Ger) , st
1st Claudia Hausler (Ger) , in 11’57 “54 – average 37,821 km / h
2nd Tatiana Antoshina (Rus) , 1 ”
3rd Francesca Security Deposit (Ita) , at 5’47 ”
4th Scandolara Valentina (Ita) , at 5’59 ”
5 ^ Shelley Olds (Aus) , at 9’45 ”
6 ^ Tetyana Riabchenko ( Ukr ) , to 13’25 ”
7 ^ Asja Paladin (Ita) , to 14’31 ”
8 ^ Inga Civilnaite (Lit) , to 15’26 ”
9 ^ Eugenia Wysotska ( Ukr ) , 15’36 ”
10 ^ Aude Biannic (Fra) , 17’17 ”
add. Printing 338 8277947
(post race) CHAOS TUSCANY : INTERVIEW THE ORGANIZATION
the word Organization
About what happened last Sunday before the last leg Lucca – Florence the Organizing Committee expresses its full solidarity with the President Brunello Fanini listing a few points:
if the event was classified HC as part of UCI means that the organizer is excellent.
At the end of this stage , the Board of Jury has validated the race without charging any relief to the company Michela Fanini
The course had been previously analyzed and approved by the technical structure of the Federation
The three managers of travel agents took ensured that the test could be carried out regularly being themselves responsible for the safety
The Director of the Traffic Police , in charge of the escort has stated publicly in front of the athletes and athletic directors that the safety of the race was guaranteed even with more staff
The College of the jury did not have anything to complain saying that the race could take place regularly
during the entire event has not occurred any accident attributable to deficiencies in the organization
we know that the athletes would complete closure of traffic as for professionals , BUT THIS IS NOT ‘ EXPECTED, in these races . Why does not intervene FCI ?
It is a tour organized in memory and in the name of their former colleague , managed by one person ( Brunello Fanini ) to which the whole world of women’s cycling owes a great deal , and he has always condiderato the athletes as the daughters !
This it is puzzling that the organization they have got phone calls to the athletes who took off in Lucca and then, incidentally, have receded in the running
Finally , it is not a threat, but it is only right to say, we are considering the possibility of taking legal action to protect the good name of the company Michela Fanini Record Rox