The Killer Van – What Really Happened?

So for all the people who follow cycling in general, this isn’t about that Killer. It also isn’t about today’s stage of the race, since the weather was so bad that they cancelled it. No, it’s about the van that hit me, and what really happened.
The answer, of course, is that I don’t know. But there were a few things that puzzled me, and as I rode today I came up with an answer that seems to fit pretty well.

To be clear from the start: It was daylight, and I was wearing clothing that was, in decreasing order, red, white, yellow, green and blue. The road where it happened was wide enough for two cars to easily pass, and was straight. It was not right at the start of the straight section, but maybe a hundred meters along it. So I thought I should have been seen. Here is what I am thinking now.

Firstly, on Italian drivers. Obviously this is all generalisation and there will be people for whom this is completely wrong. In general though they have a reputation for being crazy, and nothing I have seen contradicts that. After nearly three weeks though I was actually preferring them to drivers in the UK or Germany or Australia. The thing is, over here there is no aggression on the road. They do exactly what they want with no regard for rules, but I think I have only heard one horn to signal annoyance, and generally as long as they know what you want to do they just let you do it.

Also, they are pretty alert. They have to be I guess, because all the other drivers around them are, well, Italian, and a bit unpredictable. But that means they usually have their eyes open. So that is the first surprising thing.

The second point relates to my road position. It is often safer as a cyclist to ‘take the road’, that is to ride well out into the lane to stop people trying to squeeze by when there isn’t really enough room. The point here though is that I wasn’t taking the road there because there was plenty of it to go around. Seriously, having been climbing through switchbacks this was where the road had become wide and straight. This is where I wanted people to pass, if they were going to. This is where they had room, and shouldn’t have hit me. I was thinking about it as I rode today though and I think I know what might have happened.

Regarding the van, it didn’t look like a tourist van, although there were hundreds of them on the road. Remember, this is the ITT course, the night before. People were crowding in. So this guy (or possibly girl, I am assuming guy to save on typing) looked like a local, probably surprised by how busy his road suddenly was, but still it was pretty quiet with no traffic coming down the hill.

Now when I looked down the hill as I stood up there was a scooter and a couple of cars coming straight for me. My side of what had been a quiet road. They looked like they had been backed up behind the van, but we weren’t at the start of the straight section. So why weren’t they in the other lane, overtaking the van?

My guess is that they weren’t the vehicles from right behind him. That vehicle had already overtaken, quite possibly cutting it close. So the van driver has a car overtaking him quickly on the left, taking his attention. He hears a thump, thinks “that car just hit me!”, slows down to stop and exchange details, sees the car speeding off, and naturally accelerates away after him.

As that happens, he doesn’t even realising that he is leaving a poor injured cyclist possibly (but happily not, in this case) dying on the road behind him.

If that really is how it went (and I will never know) then I probably still would have been better served by being in the middle of the road, unless he was just too distracted to see anything but the traffic backed up behind him. He is still at fault, and should have been paying more attention to what was in front of him.

The thing I like about this version though is that he didn’t deliberately drive off and leave me. So whether it is true or not, it restores (some of) my faith in humanity.

That’s all for tonight because I can’t keep my eyes open. So until tomorrow, ciao!

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