Cycle crashes

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    Neil Martin

    The crashes in the Tour De France can be quite spectacular. How do you think cyclists overcome their fear of another crash and get back on again. Are they able to work at top speed again?

    Adam Szuster

    Personally I think that elite level riders are used to crashing; they understand that it is a part of cycling; and so to get to the elite level they know they have to ‘get back on the bike’. The same applies to most if not all forms of propulsive sports from horse riding to motorracing. Those that succeed convince themselves that getting back on the bike is the only option.

    In terms of those who struggle to preform back at their best after a crash I suspect it is becuase of a conditioning thought cycles that get processed by their brain. The most common process would be a justification that the sport is not the most important thing in their life. This prevents them from pushing themselves as hard as they had previously, hence the drop in performance relative to before the crash.

    The job of the sports psychologist in this instance is to help the athlete determine why they won’t push themselves as hard and then guide them through a decision making process to determine that not only do they need to push as hard, but harder than ever before.

    There is a saying in motorsport “you are not a real driver until you have had a big one”. Those that get back in and continue to push them selves do well (ie: Nikki Lauda, Alex Zinardi) while those who don’t fade away.

    Another aspect of this is that athletes tend not to think of the consequences of what could go wrong. they are focused on what can go right. Thinking about what can go wrong is a negative image that will blunt performance.


    I was very touched by the Video. The cyclist’s behave very well… beeing so calm, get the bike fixed again, hop on and do the job. I know from other sports that the athlets have problems to stay calm…they freak out and yell at there supporters …

    I think it is very essential for every Athlete to understand that they waist alot of energy thru the process of uncontrolled state of mind – here I mean their emotions. If you’re a professional Athlete and you earn your money that way, than the sport is the most important thing of your life!!!! That for it is even more important to become highly professional on every stage of mind!!!!


    Elite cyclists train for signature events in their sport such as the Tour de France and the Olympics. They are mindful that they could be caught in an entanglement and crash. With this mindset, they must employ mental skills training with their physical training to be a complete competitor. This means no matter the circumstance, in this case involvement in a crash, they must rely on the confidence they developed through trail and error during extensive training in that they must continue if physically able, as their outcome goal is o win.

    Lisa Rubin

    The over-the-railing crash completely freaked me out! When Armstrong rode by without any problems, that was pretty amazing. The big crash though was interesting to watch – people immediately coped with disappointment, calmed down, untangled, waited for mechanics, and moved on. The crash did not reflect their abilities because they were caught up in it.


    I am amazed of the cyclists’ cool and calm reactions over the crashes. The cyclists are indeed well prepared mentally for such happenings as seen from the crash scenarios that there were no hysterical behaviour and screaming and blaming of who is at fault.
    I dont think the cyclists’ confidence is affected maybe abit disappointed as the crashes would have surely affected their performance especially if they have sustained some form of physical injuries.

    Ong Chuan Leong

    I think the ability of an elite cyclist in overcoming fear of bike crashes primarily comes down to:

    – His/her level of competition experience. The more experienced an athlete is, it is likely he/she will be more accustomed to such occurrences;
    – Even if an athlete has not personally encountered certain types of crashes before, he/she can develop an awareness for such occurrences by consulting more experienced cyclists, coaches, or perhaps through self-learning (e.g. watching videos like the one provided)
    – How well the cyclist is psychologically prepared before each competition. For example, have the cyclist covered most of the possible scenarios through deliberate planning of psychological response to each scenario?
    – The willingness of the cyclist to confront his/her own fear.


    It always amazes me when they just get back on the bike after what looks like being a hard hit to the ground!

    But personally I think the riders who make it to the elite level somehow got “immune” to all the crashes. It takes years of training and experience to reach elite level, they’ve crashed a couple of times at least…
    It a part of the game, just as BMX, horse riding, skiing, etc.

    Those who succesfully cope with this also are some of the best athletes in their sport.


    As the commentator said, “Bike crashes can easily happen”.
    I think all cyclists are aware of the risk. For less experienced cyclists, crashes might shake their confidence a little bit and make them become more careful to avoid the crash again; perhaps they might go a bit slower than the speed before.
    For more experienced cyclists, they probably know that crashes are inevitable and thus won’t be affected as much. They will be more likely to just get up, get on the bike and move on as fast as they could.

    Jason von Stietz

    I think crashing can easily hurt the confidence of an athlete. It can lead to anxiety in similar situations. It can also lead the athlete to take fewer chances in situations that might require a more aggressive approach.

    One way cyclists can overcome the fear of crashing is through exposure therapy. One type of “exposure” can involve the cyclist imagining situations similar to the crash. The cyclist can imagine the sights, sounds, physical sensations, and thoughts related to the situation.

    It would also probably be helpful if the cyclist had a game plan for what to do in the case of a crash. Practicing the game plan in training would likely be very helpful.

    Ana Delchevska

    I was so amazed by Armstrong’s behaviour. Clear thinking, pure concentration, total awareness and he managed to find a way out of the sudden situation. Bravo!

    As for the major crash, it must be an unpleasant experience for the athletes. But I think what eases it is the fact that they are all* in it. So you can look upon your opponents and feel relieved it is not just you. That gives an opportunity to blame the circumstances and locate the cause of fail outside. I don’t think there will be a lot self-confidence damage to treat afterwards. However I am not really into cycling as a professional sport, so I could be wrong. It is a ‘do not take for granted’ opinion of mine 🙂

    *referring to everybody that crashed


    The crashes in the Tour De France can be quite spectacular. How do you think cyclists overcome their fear of another crash and get back on again. Are they able to work at top speed again?

    Crash is such a common thing in bicycle racing that it has becomes parts and parcels of the game. That’s why the cyclists self-confidence were not affected by the crashed. Unless they are physically injured, they should be able to get back to top speed again.


    Crashes are are common part of sport. It would be easy to be rattled by such an uncontrollable event however with proper planning and preparation, the effects could be mitigated. Most elite riders have had conversations with other elite riders about such an incident so that even if they had never experienced such a crash personally, they can learn from others experiences and attempt to avoid the circumstances. Normalizing the experience doesnt make it less an issue, only makes the rider more able to cope with the shock and continue with a business as usual approach.

    Amir Hashmi

    All cyclists will crash sooner or later. the pros with so much mileage under their belts are better at regaining self confidence after a crash. Some even win the event in which they crash. it’s the 2nd rung rides or with less experience which take longer to recover. Some even quit the race after a minor crash with practically no injuries or mechanical breakdown.


    I think it is very important for every Athlete to understand that they waist alot of energy thru the process of uncontrolled state of mind – here I mean their emotions.

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