Thursday 26 September 2019

Daily photo - 26: Gutted Colombian rider left with no support after mechanical

An emotional moment for the young Colombian rider German Dario Gomez. This was one of the big talking points of the Worlds and you had to have had a heart of stone not to have felt for this rider during the men's Junior World Championships in Yorkshire.
For young riders these championships are one of the rare opportunities to show themselves on a World Stage. It's a big big deal for them go be racing at the World Road Cycling Championships, with all its global coverage.

So when German Dario Gomez had his tyre roll off his wheel while he was up in the breakaway group and about to contest a hill it must have been annoying. But what was heartbreaking was to turn around to find there was no mechanical support available to him.

The Team Colombia support car was far back in the following convoy - 21st out of 25 - and the neutral service car failed to spot him and passed by.

The difficulty for the Colombian team is that because they had limited resources their mechanics were sharing a support car with other nations - Chile and Uruguay. That car had to stay in the vicinity of the majority of the South American riders, who were further back in the race. One of those riders crashed so the support car was held back even further.

Another issue was that in the UK because motorists drive on the left, riders who have issues and need support should move to the left.

However, everywhere else in the world traffic goes on the right, and that's where riders are automatically used to doing - which is what German did. Sadly, it meant that he wasn't seen by neutral service.

Lots of team support vehicles passed him and even those that did see him were reluctant to stop for fear of being penalised by the UCI for assisting a rider from a rival team.

So this combination of factors led to poor German Dario Gomez being left at the side of the road in a desperate situation. He first tried to fix the problem himself, and then began to walk up the road carrying his non-functioning bike. Such as shame, especially as he is a strong rider on hilly courses and could have been among the top finishers in the race.

Eventually German's team support arrived, some three minutes later and a Uruguayan guy came out to help him. The man was actually the father of one of the other competitors in the race. German managed to finish the race, coming in almost 17 minutes and 60 places behind the winner, Quinn Simmons of the USA.

This incident sparked a lot of debate about how a rider could have been deserted like that, and the Colombian Cycling Federation lodged a complaint with the UCI. While the UCI expressed their sorrow and disappointment at what happened, their explanation was that support cars had been instructed to stay well back from the riders and no overtaking was allowed for safety reasons because the riders were on the very fast descent of Kidstone Bank.

Team Colombia mechanic Fermin Gomez said that it was impossible for him to get to German Dario Gomez quickly given that they were sharing the support car with other nations. In addition, they'd had to attend to other riders' mechanical issues. Fermin felt that the UCI should put more measures in place to help riders from nations with limited support.

As for German Dario Gomez, he seemed happy to have completed the race, and despite all that happened, was upbeat on the team bus, and positive about his overall experience of the World Championships.

He said he was very happy to have had the chance to represent his country and had given 100% in his races. He described the incident as a situation where he was full of adrenaline but didn't know what to do and was just trying to do anything regardless of how futile it seemed.

German was grateful for the support and messages that he had received. I will look out for German Dario Gomez in his future races, and wish him all the best.

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