Neutral service cars take out two riders at Tour of Flanders
Jesse Sergent of Trek Factory Racing and Sébastien Chavanel of FDJ were both crashed during the Tour of Flanders. The riders were both taken out by a neutral service car, in two separate incidents, within 12 miles of each other. Subsequently, both riders abandoned the race.
Sergent's incident was much more dramatic, an x-ray would later reveal that he had broken his left collarbone. The crash happened while he was in a six-man breakaway with just over 62 miles remaining in the race. The riders were in the middle of the road and Sergent began moving over to the left side of the road, just as the neutral service car attempted to make it past the riders.
Trek Factory Racing manager Luca Guercilena was livid that he had to pull Sergent from the race due to irresponsible driving by the neutral service car driver. “With a broken collarbone it is never less than one month out and there’s 15 days off the bike without training. I think it will be one month without the rider and for us it is a problem because we are also without Cancellara now and we have another couple of guys with injuries so obviously it is one that counts,” Guercilena explained. “It will be tough because we focus a lot on the classic races and for us we have a lot of injuries and that of Jesse too is not helping.”
In the second incident, another neutral service car caused a crash not far behind Sergent's crash. Sébastien Chavanel was pulling over to get a new wheel from the FDJ car. The FDJ car was slowing down and pulling to the side of the road when a neutral service car slammed into the back of the FDJ car, pushing the FDJ car forward into their own rider Chavanel.
The Shimano team (the guys who drive the neutral service cars) provided the following statement on its website:
“At Shimano we apologize for both incidents the Shimano sponsored neutral caused today at the Tour of Flanders."
“We especially apologize to the riders and teams involved, Jesse Sergent of Trek Factory Racing and Sébastien Chavanel of Française des Jeux. We wish them a speedy recovery."
“The drivers of the neutral cars are professionals with many years of experience in professional cycling races. We will investigate both incidents deeply and take appropriate action.”