Enrico Della Casa: “We must not panic” – News

Last Saturday afternoon in Anadia, at the arrival of the Junior Men’s Race of the European Championship, Alex van der Meulen, 5e of the race, he has all the trouble in the world to hold the bike after the line. Then, once down, he staggers before collapsing into the barriers. A few hours earlier, in the Femení, one of her compatriots was rescued by firefighters. In the preamble, riders are reluctant to take off their ice jackets and prefer to take them off in the last seconds before departure. Saturday in Portugal was stifling, the hottest of the week, with temperatures exceeding 40 ° C, plus a scorching sun and an unbreathable air mass. Agencies have suffered throughout the bubble race. Two days earlier, for the time trials, the recovery scenes were more violent than usual. In the afternoon, the parking lot is deserted, everyone is looking for a shady spot, under the sights, in the trucks and sometimes even under the trunk of a car. Afterwards, many took refuge in the air-conditioned basement of the Sangalhos velodrome. During these four days of racing, the weather has been shown to be inclusive for the most heat sensitive, even pushing the organizers to take a turn at the Junior Men’s race on Saturday afternoon. Thus, at the end of this European Championship, Enrico Della Casa, President of the European Cycling Union, answered the questions of DirectVelo about these sometimes extreme conditions. Heat wave, global warming, ecology and the question of the future, the Italian took stock of the situation.

DirectVelo: How do you rate this European Championship?
Enrico Della Casa: A very positive first assessment with the mountain bike, with more than 250 participants and many nations. The road went just as well, many participants as well. In fact, there was a bit of heat on Saturday … But with the race doctors, and some doctors from the team, the situation was handled very well. We decided by mutual agreement to withdraw a lap from the junior race because the heat was very intense. But I’m happy with those two-thirds of the Championship, while I wait for the track. Where there will still be people to bring a total of about 1000 participants. As for the development of cycling in Europe, the center of Anadia is very important, it is a continental center of the World Cycling Center, which makes many efforts for development.

“THE REGULATIONS HAVE GIVEN US THE POSSIBILITY OF BEING VERY FLEXIBLE”

Has any driver or team had any reservations about the weather conditions?
Finally, Saturday was the hottest day, but we had no particular comment. We only had one comment from the Belgian team doctor, who asked us to check the situation. With him, we decided to eliminate this lap from the junior race as we said before. Otherwise, there were no comments. It is summer, the month of July. I think the Tour de France runners also have these weather conditions. We were at Dessel in Belgium yesterday (at the European BMX Championships, editor’s note), and there the temperature was actually different (smiles). But here we are in southern Europe, in the summer, so there are no particular steps to take. And finally it’s a bit ventilated, it’s not at the end.

Can a week like this, and a decision like Saturday, make you think of new protocols?
In fact, there are UCI regulations on extreme racing conditions. In my opinion, these protocols are fine. They may need to be developed a bit more. That is, the temperature, humidity, wind, etc. should be indicated. Insert some more technical details. But I think the regulations give us the ability to be very flexible in our decisions. Together, with the jury, because everything is done with them, the doctors, the organizing committee, etc., we have many possibilities. It’s okay like that, I think.

“IN OUR WEATHER IT WAS ALSO HOT IN SUMMER”

Has the adaptation of schedules been considered or could be considered?
It’s always a little tricky. We have to close roads. Authorizations are reserved and blocked well in advance by local authorities, the police, who are not at our disposal all day. In fact, when we set schedules we block a lot of things, such as health care, ambulances, doctors … It’s hard to change schedules at the last minute. When in fact we could expect the so-called normal days. Yesterday there was an exception, which was handled very well. These schedule adaptations are delicate for all of these reasons. The road is complex. A mountain bike test is different because the circuit is permanent, you can play with the schedules without problems, but not on the road.

Is heat, which goes hand in hand with global warming, worrying for years to come?
We were runners, almost all leaders. And in our time it was also hot in the summer. So it’s not an issue that worries us. Of course, sustainable cycling worries us. There we do have to make efforts, to limit the number of vehicles, papers for press releases, we try to be more and more careful. A few days ago, the Steering Committee of the UEC launched an initiative, which is the “UEC Forest”. We will give each organizer, each city that receives a European Championship, a tree or two. There will be three in Anadia. It is a small gesture, but we wanted to mark the fact that we must be attentive to the environment, to pollutant emissions, with all these cars. It’s tricky, because cycling is a sport that should be green, but we still don’t have the vehicles to keep up with electric car racing. Much of the nations are starting to have hybrids, which is good, but we have to put a lot of effort into having as many electric vehicles as possible.

“WE ARE NOT TOO CONCERNED AT THE MOMENT”

Are these efforts sufficient?
Thoughts, we do it. It is rather at the level of available cars that are not adapted. You need autonomy for big events, but we are getting there, and we will get there. For the mountain bike, the bike you open is an electric bike, for example. These are small gestures that show that we are attentive to the issue. It will take time but we will get there.

If in a few years the heat becomes too present, are we ready to adapt?
You shouldn’t be scared either. I think we have to look at our garden first, see what we are doing. Banners here are all recycled billboards, for example. Banners, the same. We do our best with recycled material. And in general we do our best. And if the temperature is not manageable … We do not know how it will go in the coming years. At the moment we are not too worried, we are trying to make a lot of efforts in terms of environmental protection, and then we’ll see. But we are very attentive to that, of course.

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