Sunday, July 29, 2012

Uncharacteristic crashes mar London Olympic men's cycling road race

Photo by Kayla Hanley
Iran Olympic Cyclist Amir Zargari was injured during a collision
near the Box Hill entrance of the Men's Cycling Road Race. 

Kayla Hanley
BOX HILL, SURREY — Crashes marred the men’s road race cycling event on the first full day of competition at the London Olympics on Saturday.
Towards the end of the stretch at 11:49 London time, a collision occurred near the Box Hill Circuit entrance leaving the Iranian cyclist Amir Zargari injured and later carried out of the race and into an ambulance.
The Peloton, known as the main group of riders, came to a point in the road that seemed to be a bit narrow, causing a rider to veer to the right and he happened to collide with spectators on the left side of the road.
“The pack came and just literally veered into me, straight into my shoulder,” said Maria Esposito. “There was nowhere for the cyclist to go, it seemed like this road was just too narrow.”
Esposito is a resident from Buckland Surrey, which is about four miles to where she was watching the race, who did not happen to see the colors of the rider that ran into her due to the intense speed of the pack. She was quite surprised and disappointed to have this happen in Surrey for an event as grand as it was, especially with it being the Olympics.
“It’s a real shame because we’ve been waiting for this event for so long,” said Esposito.
Near the end of the race in London, a crash forced Swiss-rider Fabian Cancellara, one of the pre-race favorites, to drop out. Kazakhstan’s Alexander Vinokouroff won the race, followed by Colombia’s Rigoberto Uran Uran in silver medal position andAlexander Kristoff of Norway for the bronze.
A test event occurred last year on the roads in Surrey that were being used for the Cycling race and Esposito said it went off “fantastically well” which led her to believe that there was no way something like a crash would be occurring in this race.
Espositio said that security and Olympic officials were thinking about putting barriers up along the paths but with the winding roads of Surrey it would have been quite difficult.
“I don’t think that would have helped,” said Esposito. “When there’s a crash and there’s nowhere for the Peloton to go you then need to squeeze a big sum of people into an area gap and it causes something much worse.”
Over the past few years since London was awarded the Olympics people have come from all over to visit Surrey and ride its many roads like the ones at Box Hill. The county has responded really well to the large sum of riders and people have been able to generate businesses that accommodate the large amount of guests.
Daniel Collyer lives along the coast of Surrey and came to Box Hill to see the race not only as a fan but a fellow cyclist as well.
Photo by Kayla Hanley
Peloton riding towards Box Hill 

“[A crash] could happen anywhere you go to London because the roads are narrow there as well,” said Collyer. “I was expecting something to happen but not expecting to be right there near it.”
Those who were not near the sight of the crash had no idea, or even heard of the crash and collision until they were walking farther towards the cyclist’s exit out of Surrey.
“I’m surprised to hear about it because the cyclists that passed us were looking as if they were riding beautifully,” said Martin Emmery. “You wouldn’t have expected or even considered a crash”
Emmery, a resident of Redhill, is a Surrey Ambassador for the Olympics and was watching the cyclists pass by at the beginning of the Dorking entrance. He and many other residents near the town of Surrey know the roads quite well and never imagined a crash, especially to an Olympian, to happen on the well-known and well-ridden roads near the famous path of Box Hill.

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