Fifteen years in the professional peloton, stage wins on the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta. Subsequently, managerial work and then consultancy in ensuring safety during world championship and World Tour races. This year, Robert Hunter will participate in securing the routes of the two largest domestic stage races - the Peace Race and the SAZKA Tour. With several weeks still to go until the start of the two largest domestic stage races, the 45-year-old South African has been carefully driving the routes together with Race Director Leo König and identifying possible risks.
After finishing your racing and managerial career, you now work as a race safety consultant. What cycling events are you involved in around the world?
I have worked on a number of large international events, such as the Tour de Suisse and Tour of Guangxi in China. I also helped with the World Cup, working as a technical advisor for four years in a row. In total, I have been in this field for eight years since I retired from professional cycling.
What do you think about the Peace Race and the SAZKA Tour? How challenging do you think the stage battles are?
The Peace Race is one of the most famous international cup races in the U23 category. You can identify the future stars of the professional peloton on really challenging routes. The SAZKA Tour is also a very good race with a similar profile, still growing. I believe that in the future it will rank among the top stage races in Europe.
What will be your role at the SAZKA Tour and Peace Race?
I will help ensure the safety and technical requirements so that the races are run according to the highest standards and there are no unpleasant incidents, whether from the point of view of competitors or the public.
What on the agenda for you in Czechia?
We surveyed the routes thoroughly with safety in mind and identified potential problems so that nothing surprises us during the races.
Can you reveal the biggest issue with respect to safety? What do you need to focus on most?
We definitely need to see the complete route from start to finish. Road works, a new roundabout or a traffic island can get in the way of the peloton. We have to have such places under control in advance.
Are the safety standards at the SAZKA Tour and the Peace Race different compared to the World Tour races?
The standards are the same, whether it’s for the professional peloton or U23 riders. We must be certain that the course is safe, that no vehicles are present apart from the race back-up vehicles, and that there are no obstacles, and that barriers lining the course are erected correctly. From start to finish everything must be clear so as to avoid incidents.
Do you feel more nervous at a race now as a safety consultant than in the past as a competitor?
I think the perspective is different. As a racer you ride for yourself, it’s your result that counts. When you are an organiser, you continually think about the relatively large number of people depending on you. So yes, on a race day I’m certainly more nervous now than I was in the past.
“Robbie Hunter and his team have experience from that largest stage races in the world. They organise the Tour de Suisse, which is a nine-stage World Tour race. There is no doubt that we can learn from them. We inspected the routes together. After having experience in the peloton, we see a lot of things on the course differently to an ordinary mortal. We agree on many things, which is great for race quality and safety. Mutual cooperation is definitely the right way to move the race to the levels that we want to get the SAZKA Tour.”
Race Director of the SAZKA Tour and Peace Race
- Born 22 April 1977 in Johannesburg.
- During his career he rode 17 Grand Tours (9x Tour de France, 5x Giro di Italia, 3x Vuelta) and 27 Monuments (7x Paris-Roubiax, 13x Milan-San Remo, 7x Tour of Flanders).
- He has cycled for Lampre, Mapei-Quickstep, Rabobank, Phonak, Barloworld, Garmin, Radioshack and Garmin Sharp.
- He can boast 35 professional wins. Among his greatest successes are a stage win on the Tour de France (2007), a team time trial win on the Giro d'Italia (2012), two stage wins on the Vuelta (1999, 2001), two stage wins on the Tour de Suisse (2004) and overall victory on the Tour of Qatar.