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On November 12, just miles from the 2015 UCI world road championships race course, a driver in an SUV buzzed a group of five cyclists, stopped, and then threatened them with a handgun.
NBC affiliate WWBT reported on an incident that occurred in Ashland, Virginia, in Hanover County, about 20 miles north of Richmond, host of next year’s world championships.
“It became out-and-out warfare when he produced a handgun, and threatened to kill me if I took another step toward the vehicle,” Stephen Hancock told WWBT. Hancock, 64, was one of the five riders involved in the incident.
The driver, Edward Fornel, 61, was arrested on November 14 and charged with reckless driving and brandishing a firearm. He will go to court November 25.
The incident took place about eight miles from the world championship time trial course route, which passes east of Ashland.
Another cyclist was the victim of a hit-and-run incident that occurred in Ashland, on October 17, but was not seriously injured.
“This was an incredibly unfortunate incident, however, an isolated one that doesn’t represent the predominant culture in the area,” said Lee Kallman, of Richmond 2015, regarding the incident with Fornel. “Richmond and the surrounding region (Hanover County is where the elite men’s ITT starts) is home to an emerging cycling culture and, on the whole, is a great place to ride your bike.
“Since Richmond was awarded the worlds, 2015 has served as a catalyst for a lot of positive efforts around getting more people on bikes and increasing awareness around those already on the road. Local municipalities and the Commonwealth of Virginia have ongoing share-the-road educational programs and PSAs that seek to educate and inform motorists and cyclists alike about best safety practices. Furthermore, Richmond’s hired a bike/ped coordinator. We’ve seen the creation of more and more bicycling events and a huge push is underway to add significantly more bike-related infrastructure.
“We have always seen Richmond 2015 as a transformative opportunity for the community — like a lot of industrial cities in the U.S., we are not there yet — but we are well on our way.”
When asked if there were measures in place to reduce conflicts between motorists and cyclists, or to protect the hundreds of riders that will descend upon local roads in September 2015, Terry Sullivan, a spokesperson at the Hanover Sherriff’s Office provided this reply via email:
“As far as the world championship races, discussions and planning have been going on for quite a while with regional law enforcement partners. Safety and security for each route planned is a top priority and encompasses a detailed plan designed to keep all participants and area residents safe and allow for an enjoyable experience.
“Regarding discussions on terrorism, as a crime, we monitor any and all threats with the upmost regard to ensure the safety of our citizens. Our planning process incorporates any potential danger with appropriate mitigation and response measures. In addition, we work very closely with state and federal authorities to identify and monitor any potential threats.”