AN ERRANT driver brought the Kellogg's Tour to a frightening halt yesterday when his head-on collision with the 102-strong field caused a crash and then a protest stoppage by the riders about the security of the race.
As the race swept downhill towards a bend near Ambleside the car was in a slight shunt with two police motorcyclists, and then met the riders travelling at 60kph (40mph). The head of the field swung left to avoid the vehicle and several riders hit a stone wall. The British champion, Brian Smith, suffered a deep wound in his right arm, his Australian team-mate, Phil Anderson, needed stitches in his hip and arm, and the Dutchman Adri van der Poel and Oleg Kozlitine, of Kazakhstan, suffered minor injuries, forcing their retirement.
Blood-spattered Smith and Anderson rode on and joined the rest of the riders in a 20- minute stoppage. 'It could have been a more serious accident,' Smith said after riding the final 112km with a tourniquet on his arm. 'We were all very lucky, but something serious has to be done about bike racing in Britain. I think a lot of people need educating, especially the public.'
The riders, on their way from Carlisle through the holiday traffic routes of the Lake District to Blackpool, vented their anger after 136 of the 184km once the race had re-formed.
'It was a pretty emotional time for the riders, but this happens in many European countries,' Alan Rushton, the Tour organiser, said. 'When a rogue car disobeys the instruction to stop by three different police officers, there is not much I can do about that. It seems that the protest was not completely unanimous. Some riders wanted to race on, and team managers were certainly very voluble against the protest.'
The driver of the car is being prosecuted by the police, he added.
The Dutchman Wiebren Veenstra, team-mate of the injured Van der Poel, gave the Collstrop team some consolation by snatching a sprint victory ahead of the German rider Olaf Ludwig and Jan Svorada of Slovakia. It changed nothing in the overall standings where the Italian, Maurizio Fondriest, has a four-second lead over the Russian, Slava Ekimov.
KELLOGG'S TOUR OF BRITAIN Second stage (Carlisle to Blackpool, 113.2 miles): 1 W Veenstra (Neth) Collstrop 5hr 15min 46sec; 2 O Ludwig (Ger) Telekom; 3 J Svorada (Slovak) Lampre; 4 M Elliott (GB) Choice Accountancy; 5 P van Roosbroek (Bel) Trident; 6 D Rayner (GB) Lex- Townsend, all same time. Team: 1 Choice Accountancy 15:47:18; 2 Lotto; 3 FS Maestro, all s/t. Overall: 1 M Fondriest (It) Lampre 10hr 36min 04sec; 2 V Ekimov (Rus) Wordperfect +4sec; 3 S Sunderland (Aus) TVM +5; 4 A Gontchenkov (Ukr) Lampre +7; 5 M Saligari (It) GB-MG +11; 6 Veenstra +18. Overall team: 1 Lampre 31:49:02; 2 TVM 31:49:19; 3 GB-MG s/t. Points: 1 Svorada 20pts; 2 Sunderland 19; 3 Ludwig 18. Sprints: 1 B Luckwell (GB) FS Maestro 18pts; 2 M Walsham (GB) Choice Accountancy 7; 3 Svorada 6. Mountains leader: 1 Sunderland 43pts; 2 Luckwell 24; 3 Fondriest 19.
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