The recent crash of pro cyclist Laurens De Plus at Il Lombardia may have some wondering what exactly happened. So here at the “Road” we decided to break it down for our cycling friends.
In the clip below you will witness the alarming crash of Laurens De Plus during the Giro di Lombardia. As a result of rider error, he winds up as flipping straight over the bike bars and a road barrier then drops 30ft to the ground. Thank goodness Laurens was not seriously injured, for it certainly could have been very serious or even fatal.
Now to deconstruct the crash. De Plus’s resulting loss of control actually began many, many meters prior to the actual crash. Even before the rear wheel skids out. The error was most likely committed at the exit of the prior corner. [ Yes, at the exit of the preceding corner ] which subsequently put him ‘off line’ for the entry of the following BLIND but slightly decreasing radius – right-hand corner ( even though it appears to be a sweeping type of curve ) in which De Plus visually loses control and then flies over the barrier.
Unfortunately, De Plus made three critical errors that resulted in a terrifying looking crash, that could have had potentially disastrous consequences.
Mistake number one: Improper line in the previous corner, led to being ‘off’ line for the right-hander that was ever so costly for De Plus.
Mistake number two: The offending right-hand corner entry speed was too high for the radii, which typically results in a very wide exit and in this case it did. Also not identifying (or reading) the corner as a slightly decreasing radius. Analysis: Corner entry speed was too fast for the corner’s radius. This is where trail braking or just a slight scrub of the brakes as a rider turns in, comes into play. Critical skill: brake slightly to set corner entry speed for the given radii of a turn.
Remember, the idea is to always set the bike up for the EXIT. Carrying too much entry speed or ‘rushing’ the corner results in a wide exit- and when the corner is decreasing in its geographical nature, managing corner entry speed becomes even more important. The key to conquering problem corners is to break them down into individual parts and then assigning a priority for each element of the turn.
Mistake number three: Target Fixation. In a last gasp attempt to get the bike stopped, De Plus locks the rear wheel via braking, which only COMPOUNDS the problem. His vision is LOCKED or fixated on the barrier, he panics and then locks the rear brakes up. ( “it’s all over but the shouting” ) Locking the brakes FORSAKES control. ( say that fast three times! ) Once a rider has locked the bike up under threshold braking, a rider can no longer steer or control the bike.
The take away? It is imperative to be able to ‘read’ a corner or a series of corners at higher speeds. It ALL begins with good Vision/Line of Sight skills. Or as we like to say here… VisionForward. Eyes and head always up towards the exit and on blind corners, towards and past the Vanishing Point. Braking technique and countersteering skills are so very crucial for high-speed cornering, be it flat or downhill. That is why we constantly enforce the idea of practicing these skills on every ride, from the club rider to the pro’s, no one
( including myself ) is immune from making a mistake!
In closing, we are certainly glad that De Plus is relatively okay. For sure he is one lucky lad to be up and about AND still breathing… Hopefully he takes away this hard lesson learned and practices his panic braking, steering and line of sight/vision skills so he may fight and perhaps win another day!