Thursday, September 8, 2011

When Cycling Gets Political...

...and I don't mean battles on Capitol Hill over transportation budgets or motorist rants about cyclists running red lights or any of the myriad other types of trite political arguments that revolve around the nexus of cycling. I don't even mean professional riders and teams protesting a stage of a race over a ban on the use of team radios or the safety of the race route.

I am talking about geopolitics and political protest. A new professional race in Italy called the Giro di Padania had its opening stage Tuesday. The controversy is over and the affiliation of the race with the Lega Nord political party and over the name of the race. Padania is apaprently not a recognized geograhical term, rather it's a name given to the area around the Po River by the Lega Nord, which wants autonomy for the region.

A protest was organized to block the race route. I assume the protest was intended to be civil and peaceful. However, among other things, several protesters tried to slap riders and in the fracas a police officer "was struck by a race car and taken to hospital." Race car in this instance, of course, means a team support vehicle and not a Formula One Ferrari.

Some news coverage of the story:

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