Orica-GreenEdge fined over Stage One bus farce

Jul 01, 2013, 00:56 IST | AFP

The Orica-GreenEdge team were hit with a fine of 2,000 Swiss Francs (US USD 2,116) after their bus blocked the finish line to Saturday's opening stage of this year's Tour de France, leading to a chaotic finale.

Organisers proposed moving the finish line forward by three kilometres before eventually clearing the bus, which had become stuck under a gantry right at the end of the stage.

The Orica-Greenedge team bus collides with the finishing banner prior to the race at the finish line of Stage One in Bastia. PIC/Getty Images

That allowed them to revert to the original race plan, but not before confusion among the peloton led to a mass crash six kilometres from the end.

Organisers blamed Orica-GreenEdge for “not respecting the timetable put in place for auxiliary team vehicles arriving at the stage finish.”  Meanwhile, the driver of the Orica-GreenEdge team bus apologised for the incident.

Garikoitz Atxa, a Spanish former cyclist who was on his first day working as the Orica team’s bus driver, was caught on camera with his head in his hands when the incident happened.

He told Eurosport television yesterday: “I don’t know whether I’m famous or infamous. I’m feeling terrible but it’s all over and there was nobody injured in the finish.

“This was my first day driving the bus so it’s not a good start but I hope they have faith in me. I tried to sleep but I had a lot on my mind and I hope today will go ok.

“The team were kind and sympathetic and I’m grateful for all the nice things they said, and what else can I say but I’m sorry.” 

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