Marcel Kittel

Week 41 (28 June - 4 July 2014)

Cyclists can be a brash bunch so it's no surprise that despite Yorkshire currently hosting an excellent Grand Départ of this year's Tour de France, the organisers, and the area itself, haven't been totally immune to criticism.

Criticism this week came in the shape of German cyclist, Marcel Kittel, who highlighted the narrow lanes of Yorkshire's roads as potentially dangerous for a large peloton and the watching pack of eager spectators.

The Giant-Shimano rider won four stages last year but is apprehensive about the potential for a high-speed crash during the first two stages (both in Yorkshire) of this year's race. He told cyclingnews.com:

"It's a fact we'll be using some very narrow roads. I'm sure for riders' safety it would be better if they were wider.

"There will be lots of spectators, you can see that even when there's a three-lane road, sometimes they turn it into a tunnel. Where can they [the spectators] go if there are stone walls? I'm curious as to what is going to happen."

It takes a lot to create a shock in the world of cycling, so Kittel voicing his concerns about this year's course will not have had the Tour's organisers looking to amend their policy on road safety. But Kittel elaborated on his criticism by saying something more worrying for the sport of cycling: cyclists have the last say when it comes to the sport's governance.

In the same interview, he added:

"At the moment, the hierarchy is the race organisers and the UCI, then it's the teams, and finally the riders. We are always the last to be asked to join any discussion, even though most times they don't even ask us."

The IOC see putting athletes first as one of its five key topics as it forms its Olympic Agenda 2020 (due for completion this December) but it's a maxim which all fans and participants would say needs to be at the heart of every sport.

The advances being made by the UCI and the sport's professional road teams in terms of anti-doping show that cycling is definitely putting its athletes first – but in Kittel's eyes it is clear there is room for improvement.

Cycling's authorities will certainly have noted Kittel's claims and, if they agree, it could lead to current professional cyclists having more influence over the governance of their sport – a thought which may comfort Marcel Kittel as he holds onto his handlebars for dear life over the next two days.

Photo: Radsportkompakt