Cycling: French railway seeks action against Paris-Roubaix riders

Cycling: French railway seeks action against Paris-Roubaix riders

PARIS - The French state railway company SNCF on Monday sought police action after several riders in the Paris-Roubaix cycling classic crossed a barrier seconds before a high speed train arrived.

"Several riders deliberately, and against all safety rules, crossed a closed safety barrier," said a SNCF statement announcing the complaint to French prosecutors.

"Millions of television viewers saw live this extremely serious and irresponsible action which could have been tragic," the railway company added.

"A few seconds later, a TGV ran on this line and could have hit the peloton." The incident happened at the Wallers crossing in northern France during Sunday's race.

The TGV high speed train passed a few seconds after the last rider had ridden under the barrier, though by that point a police motorcycle had stopped more riders going through.

One rider from the Belgian Lotto team was clipped by a barrier which came down as the peloton was passing, about 87 kilometres from the end of the prestigious Hell of the North cobbled classic.

Guy Dobbelaere, president of the jury of race commissioners, defended the action of the riders on Sunday.

"It wasn't possible for the leading riders to stop sufficiently safely," said Dobbelaere.

"The peloton was 10 metres away when the barrier started to close.

"By neutralising the race for a few moments to not penalise those who stopped, we respected the spirit of the rule.

"In theory, those who pass when the barrier is down are thrown out of the race.

"This time, that would have been unjust in respect of those riders who weren't identified," said the official.

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