Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Peloton littering charges in Belgium

For a while now I've been getting a bit pissed off watching riders chucking their gel packets and bits of food wrapping on the road as they go. Well, it seems this might be about to catch up with them. A Belgian environmental group is pressing for charges to be brought against three named riders in the Fleche Wallonne, citing Walloonian waste management laws. They say they witnessed the three riders, Benjamin Gourgue (Landbouwkrediet), Christopher Froome (Sky) and Blel Kadri (Ag2R) throw away bottles and packages as they rode.

See here: www.cyclingnews.com

In the case of the bottles I think it's a bit of a non-issue. There are very few parts of a course where there is no fan to pick up the bottles, and indeed musettes, as souvenirs. That's a tradition. I've done it myself at races. On top of that at least one bottle manufacturer, Tacx, is supplying several teams with it's new Bio-Bottle, made from supposedly bio degradable plastic.

But waste packaging is another matter. No fan is that obsessive!

There is a real element of the old Mammys rebuke "you wouldn't do that at home" about this story. A rider wouldn't throw litter as they walk down the street so why do it on the move. What possible performance advantage is to be gained by chucking waste on the ground. Even worse most races travel through areas of scenic beauty making the offence worse in my book.

Some race organisers claim they have clean up teams following behind. Come on, really?? And nothing is missed, blows away in the wind, sinks in puddles, etc, etc?

Check out these videos of Spartacus himself riding to victory in the Tour Of Flanders (about 4:55 into the video) and Paris Roubaix (about 6:10 in). In both going cases, when you'd think he'd have better things to think about, he goes through an apparent ritual of clearing his pockets of rubbish as he powers to win on his own. Why exactly?

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