Chaos marred Hong Kong’s inaugural charity cycling marathon on Sunday, with bikers barely avoiding head-on crashes at the finish line.
Bad weather forced delays in the 35-kilometer professional section of the marathon, resulting in some cyclists still coming in as participants in the 10 km. race were setting off, according to Apple Daily.
Organizers had given the 10 km. racers a 30-minute head start.
More than 3,000 took part in the competition, dubbed first Hong Kong Cyclothon, half of them in the 35 km. challenge.
Part of the route was used by both groups.
When the professional riders checked into the finish line, they found themselves running into a large group of 10 km. cyclists who just started the race.
“There would have been head-on crashes if we weren’t quick enough on the brakes,” said a professional rider, surnamed Wai, 35.
Marshalls were forced to stop the incoming riders and confine them to the roadside to allow the 10 km. cyclists to pass.
“I have never seen riders being made to stop during a race in an international event,” Wai said.
Some laid up participants used the time to take selfies. Others decided to walk the remaining distance to the finish line with their bikes.
Many criticized the organizers for the confusion.
“If the full mark is 10, this cyclothon gets a negative 10. We hope the organizers can do better next time,” Apple Daily quoted one rider as saying.
Mason Hung, director of events and product development of Hong Kong Tourism Board, the race organizer, acknowledged insufficient planning.
“We would like to give an official apology to everybody, especially the participants. We hope that we will be able to do better next year,” he said.
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