Police chiefs in the Australian city of Geelong have reacted angrily to the antics of some top international cyclists who are set to compete at the world road race championships.
Geelong, which is 100km south of Melbourne, is hosting the five-day event from Wednesday to Sunday when the men’s road race, the blue riband event, will crown a new winner of the coveted rainbow jersey.
Squads of cyclists from around the world have converged on Geelong, a port city situated at the gateway of the scenic Great Ocean Road, and have been riding on the circuit to finalise preparations.
But according to local police, many are breaking the law – and endangering themselves and the public – by not stopping at red lights, and riding at more than two abreast. The circuit is still open to the public until the competition begins on Wednesday.
Geelong’s top traffic policeman, Senior Sergeant Shane Coles, says if he has to, he will book and fine the world champion.
“If they are detected they will be booked, it doesn’t matter if they are the world champion, the law is the law and they’ve got to comply with it,” Coles said in the Geelong Advertiser newspaper.
“We’re going to have a huge influx of bikes in the next week or so and all my members on the highway patrol no one is having a day off so we are going to have a massive presence in the area.”
Michael Palmer, the organising committee general manager for the International Cycling Union (UCI), admitted that some cyclists have been ignoring traffic lights and other road laws when training.
Just as he was talking to the paper while standing surveying work being carried out on the 15.9km circuit, three riders went straight through red lights.
While not condoning the behaviour, he advised local residents to look out.
“Stopping at red lights is something they don’t spend a lot of time bothering about,” Mr Palmer said, according to the paper. “Basically people out driving around Geelong need to keep a bit of an eye out.
“We’re working with the teams to make sure they understand they’ve got to abide by the road rules, but there’s plenty of examples… there goes another one.”
“We’ll be talking with them to make sure they stop doing that.”
Australia’s Cadel Evans, who is from nearby Barwon Heads, is the defending world champion.
© AFP 2010