July 16, 2005
Tour will commemorate Casartelli tomorrow
As if doing well on the Tour's last uphill finish, gapping the field on the Tour's longest day, and denying other riders from moving up for one more day weren't enough, Lance Armstrong has another reason to mark tomorrow's stage.
Stage 15 will pass the spot on the descent from the Porte d'Aspet where, in the 1995 Tour, (correction) Motorola's Fabio Casartelli died when he crashed and hit his head on a low concrete wall. The white jersey competition has since been named the 'Souvenir Fabio Casartelli' in his honor.
Perhaps the greatest legacy of Casartelli's death is the UCI helmet rule, which has gradually been strengthened to the point that this year, riders can be fined for riding without helmets at any time during the race (last year, they could remove them on finishing climbs).
Casartelli's family will attend Sunday's stage, which looks to be the hardest of the 2005 Tour.
errm - Fabio Casartelli wasn't a member of US Postal; he was in Team Motorola with Armstrong.
Also, it might be stringing a long bow to say the UCI helmet rule was a direct result of Casartelli's death, which happened 10 years ago. It was a much more direct result of Andrei Kivilev's death in Paris-Nice two years ago.
Posted by: mike at Jul 16, 2005 10:47:58 PM
I knew he was with Motorola -- fingers got ahead of my brain; you'll see the Moto jersey in the photos linked.
You're right, as well, that Kivilev's death was the final impetus that got riders and the UCI together on a helmet rule, but after a nearly 15-year battle. The UCI originally tried to impose the rule in 1991, but withdrew it because of rider objections.
In the meantime, amateurs were required to wear helmets, and some countries mandated their use. Casartelli's death was an important turning point on that line, particularly when it came out after the Tour that, despite team and Tour doctors saying a helmet would have made no difference in his accident, that his injuries were to the top of his head, and would likely have been very different with a lid.
Even after Kivilev's death, a number of pros and former pros, including Laurent Fignon, continued to pooh-pooh mandatory helmet use, but I think Casartelli's death took much of the legitimacy out of their argument.
Certainly the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute report linked above believes that Casartelli's death provided part of the basis for helmet rules.
Posted by: Frank at Jul 17, 2005 2:36:10 AM
While I strongly support the required use of helmets, I must admit I did like the (now eliminated) exception where the riders were not required to wear them on an uphill finish - it just somehow looks much more dramatic and elemental with the bare-headed riders battling their way up to the final summit. I know, vanity should never trump safety ... I suppose you can go off the road even while going up. But have there been any actual incidents of grand tour riders crashing hard enough to sustain head injuries on an uphill finish?
Posted by: EWM at Jul 17, 2005 1:29:12 PM