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Giro d'Italia ditches Best Descender prize in response to rider objections

Joseph Delves
3 May 2017

Pressure from racers and fans sees proposed prize for the fastest rider downhill cancelled

The organisers of the Giro d’Italia have issued a statement announcing their decision to drop the best downhill rider prize from the race following widespread objection from both fans and riders.

In the statment they said: 'The spirit of the initiative was to highlight an important skill which is an integral part of a cycle race without putting the riders' safety in jeopardy.

'Rider safety is, and remains, the priority of the Giro and the race organisers.'

The organisers went on to state that, 'comments have been made suggesting that this initiative could potentially be misunderstood and generate behaviours not in line with the safety principle.'

The proposed Pirelli Premio Miglior Discesista (best descender) competition would have seen riders tackling 10 timed segments, with the overall winner receiving a prize awarded at the race’s culmination in Milan.

Since news of the prize was announced riders have been vocal in their objections, citing their fears for rider safety.

Peter Stetina and Jasper Stuyven of Trek-Segafredo, Jos Van Emden of LottoNL-Jumbo, Wout Poels of Team Sky and Cannondale-Drapac directeur sportif Jonathan Vaughters all took to twitter to condemn the move.

The final nail may have come from Tom Van Damme, president of the UCI’s road commission and head of the Belgian Cycling Federation.

A senior figure at the UCI, Van Damme appears to have petitioned the organisation to ban the Italian tour’s latest innovation, commenting that'd he’d 'asked to forbid this immediately.'

Yesterday we spoke to racing legend and Eurosport commentator Sean Kelly about the situation.

'It’s a crazy competition to be throwing in,; he said.

'Especially with the history of the Giro, we lost a guy there [Wouter Weylandt] a number of years ago... it’s totally mad, I don’t agree with it.'

Despite cancelling the competition, the organisers will still collect data from riders on the descents, allowing fans watching on TV to make their own assessment of the riders' abilities.

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