Italy’s Matteo Trentin has called for 2021 to be the year of safety in professional cycling after a number of high-profile accidents and injuries during the rescheduled 2020 season.
Trentin is widely considered one of the most intelligent riders in the peloton and has always spoken out to defend riders’ rights and safety. He and Philippe Gilbert attended a series of special UCI meetings on safety in recent weeks on behalf of the CPA riders association, which lead to the announcement of a number of new safety measures, including standards for barriers in finishing straights.
Rider safety has been a major issue since the season restarted in August. The worst moment came at the Tour de Pologne, where Fabio Jakobsen suffered life-threatening injuries after crashing into unstable barriers in a collision with Dylan Groenewegen on a downhill sprint.
Last week the UCI announced a broad range of new safety measures that will be gradually rolled out in men’s and women’s road cycling in 2021, including the creation of safety managers at events, a database of incidents and improved security and barrier standards for the finish areas at events.
“Safety has to be the priority in 2021,” Trentin told La Gazzetta dello Sport on Monday, calling on professional cycling to follow the improvements made by other sports to better protect its athletes.
“We made a series of proposals and we’re on the right road. The rules are old and have never been updated or followed the evolution of cycling. In other sports like F1, MotoGP and even ice skating, they’ve been far better than we have,” Trentin explained.
“We want to re-evaluate the use of the barriers: they have to be safer near the finish and made so that if you hit them you don’t get hurt. They can’t only separate us and the spectators. There are also problems with the cars and motorbikes in races. There are too many, they pass us too quickly and too closely.”
Trentin will ride for UAE Team Emirates in 2021 after the demise of the CCC team. The team’s contract was eventually bought by the Intermarché-Wanty Gobert team in Belgium but Trentin had already agreed a deal with UAE Team Emirates as a key part of their Classics squad.
“UAE Team Emirates contacted me last year but nothing came of it. Then this year, when the problems at CCC were clear, we started to talk again,” he explained.
“We quickly reached a deal and I’m happy to be working with lots of people I know. I live in Monte Carlo and so often train with Formolo, Conti, Gaviria and Pogačar.
Trentin rode the Tour de France and the Classics in September and October but was hampered by the consequences of a crash at Milan-San Remo in early August. His best result was third at Gent-Wevelgem.
“I’ve no excuse, 2020 was a bad year for me, I didn’t perform as well as I’d hoped. The crash at Milan-San Remo caused me various problems that dragged on for a long time. But to be honest, I expected more,” he admitted openly.
“For sure having to find a new team wasn’t a help but when you’re racing you have to stay focused and I hoped for better results.”
Trentin is always willing to work to try to improve professional cycling, sacrificing his personal time to represent his fellow riders. After a nine-year career, he understands the sports problems and sees some remedies.
“Things aren’t great economically in cycling, the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt everyone but there’s still a lot of passion for the sport, which we can see by the growing bike sales. We’ve got to be good to tap into this trend,” he suggested.
“Young people want to interact with events but we’re missing that aspect. When I watch a F1 race, it’s like I’m sitting in with the driver. We’ve got to find a way to modernise our sport too.”