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Time trial bikes are getting more dangerous to train on open roads with, according to Tom Pidcock.
The 22-year-old, who is in Fayetteville, AR for the world cyclocross championships, told BBC Sport that he believed the increasingly extreme positions required on TT bikes were making it less safe to ride on public roads.
Pidcock’s teammate Egan Bernal was hospitalized Monday after colliding with a stopped bus during a training ride in Colombia. Local police confirmed that the Ineos Grenadiers rider was training on his time trial bike and was in a tucked position at the time of the crash.
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“Positions are getting more and more extreme and we spend more time trying to hold these positions,” Pidcock told BBC Sport. “You don’t necessarily see where you’re going.”
Pidcock was on his time trial bike when he was involved in a training crash in Andorra last June, though he was ultimately hit from the side by a driver. He was left with a broken collarbone as a result and had to postpone his return to road racing following a stint on the mountain bike.
His new Ineos Grenadiers teammate Ben Turner also suffered a major accident on the time trial bike during the prologue of the Tour de l’Avenir last August. Turner misjudged a downhill corner and hit a road sign, suffering multiple facial fractures as a result.
Though the circumstances are different from those in Bernal’s crash, Pidcock believes that the TT position has had a role to play and that more needs to be done to make it safer.
“It’s evident now where it’s getting quite dangerous,” Pidcock said. “I don’t think we need to stop progressing but [we need to] think about how we can train in a safer way and try and mitigate these crashes.
“I crashed on a time trial bike, Ben crashed on a time trial bike, Egan’s now crashed. It’s getting quite extreme, the position. I think that’s the biggest cause of the crashes recently.”
Former professional Santiago Botero, who suffered an unrelated crash this week, indicated Bernal may have been distracted by training on his time trial bike. He suggested that riding on the track in a velodrome would be safer.
“I was talking people close to the incident, and the issue is that he was distracted, so much so that a bus overtook him, and passengers managed to get off, ” Botero told Blu Radio. “Also, two other riders were ahead of him, so he wasn’t alone. He did not see and struck at 40-45kph. The worst thing a cyclist can do is hit against a static object.
“I used the velodrome here a lot in Medellín, and also with a motorcycle [motorpacing, -ed]. When you make a lot of effort, you lose focus. He surely lowered his gaze, and the bus passed. It was unfortunate for him.”
Bernal suffered a fractured vertebra, femur, ribs, and a punctured lung as a result of the crash. He underwent surgery on his spine and leg and doctors confirmed that he had movement in all four of his limbs.
In its latest update, the Clínica Universidad de La Sabana — where Bernal is being treated — said that the Colombian’s recovery showed a “favorable evolution.”