Cycling: Military to guard Tour de France rail crossings

Cycling: Military to guard Tour de France rail crossings
The pack of the riders parades in downtown Utrecht, before the start of the 166-km (103.15 miles) second stage of the 102nd Tour de France cycling race from Utrecht to Zeeland, July 5, 2015.
PHOTO: Reuters

PARIS - French soldiers will guard every train crossing on the route on the Tour de France to stop riders going under the barrier, the government said Monday.

The measure was ordered to prevent a repeat of an incident in this year's Paris-Roubaix race when riders crossed a line just seconds before a high speed train hurtled by.

Organisers reaffirmed that any rider who breaches safety rules at rail crossings would be thrown out of the Tour, which started on Monday in Belgium heading for northern France.

"On national territory, a representative of the organisers and a Republican Guard will be posted at each level crossing ... and ensure the rules for crossing at that particular point," said a statement released by the interior ministry, Tour de France organisers and the SNCF, France's state rail company.

Tour de France organisers said there would also be extra safety signs before each rail crossing.

There will be eight rail crossings in Saturday's stage from Rennes to Mur-de-Bretagne.

"Riders who do not conform to this arrangement will be thrown out of the race by the commissioners in line with International Cycling Union rules," the statement added.

French prosecutors are still considering whether to press charges after a number of riders ignored a red light during the Paris-Roubaix race in April and crossed a TGV high speed rail line.

The last rider went under the barrier just eight seconds before a train went by.

The SNCF condemned the "irresponsible" manoeuvre and made an official complaint to prosecutors. Twenty-nine people died in accidents on French rail crossings in 2014.

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