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A Descent too Dangerous? - Ghent-Wevelgem


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A Descent too Dangerous?
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Jimmy Casper is a 29-year-old Frenchman who rides for Unibet.com. He has the dubious distinction of twice finishing dead last in the Tour de France, and on a brighter note he was featured in the IMAX film "Wired to Win."


Last week something else happened to make him remembered in pro cycling. He crashed on the steep, twisting, cobbled descent of the Kemmelberg hill during the Belgian race Ghent-Wevelgem. Cameras caught him smashing face-first into the stones and sliding that way for several meters, grinding off his nose and, according to some reports, part of his tongue.


A dozen others fell too and half wound up in a hospital with <?:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Casper to be treated for their own serious injuries. The crash touched off a firestorm of debate between those that say the Kemmelberg should be banned from future editions of Ghent-Wevelgem, one of cycling's historic spring classics, and those that say the race will be nothing without it.


The ascent of the steep hill has often separated the contenders from the pretenders. In fact, the route took riders up it twice in the race last week. The problem is the descent, particularly the second one when everyone is going for broke. Bottles bounce out of cages and spill, making the stones slippery. Rider veer to miss the bottles, wheels clash, and riders crash at more than 40 mph (64 kph).


Is it bike racing or is it almost criminal?


Luc Gheysens, organizer of the Ghent-Wevelgem, says he won't listen to those who want to take the Kemmelberg out of the race.


"Then they must also take the cobblestones out of Paris-Roubaix, or the [mountains] out of the Tour de France," he told the publication Sportwereld. "Museeuw was nearly dead after his crash in Paris-Roubaix and Casartelli died in the descent of the Portet d'Aspet in the Tour. Races are dangerous. It is the fault of the riders if they don't have enough skills."


As for Casper, "[He] caused it himself," Gheysens claims. "He collided with the wheel in front of him. Well, that's when you crash. They must learn to adapt their riding behavior, to watch the distance between bikes, and keep their bidons in their bottle cages."


He says removing the Kemmelberg "would kill Ghent-Wevelgem." It seems he'd prefer to see the race kill riders.


Johan Museeuw, the former classics specialist and world champion, says part of the problem is riders on tall, V-section aero rims.


"Those rims are splendid for open roads, but not for cobblestones," Museeuw told Sportwereld. "You come to Kemmelberg at 70 km an hour. Then you can be the best rider in the whole world but you won't have your bike under control. Ninety percent of the riders who fell had high rims."


Museeuw admits that flying bottles can happen on cobbled roads anywhere, such as in Paris-Roubaix, but "the difference is that on flat cobbles with low rims, you have the chance to make a correction, which isn't possible on the descent of Kemmelberg."


One solution -- to pave over Kemmelberg's cobblestones -- is rejected out of hand by people such as Ghent-Wevelgem director Hans de Clerc. He calls the hill "a national monument, so [paving] will never happen."


The debate continues as riders heal and Jimmy Casper's face is rebuilt.
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Its al pozatto's fault the poephol braked.

 

Every local knows no breaking on the kemmel or you skid bounce all over the place pozzato bumped Casper and mayhem started.

 

Seen a hunderde u16 going down it without crashes
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