Like this site? Help us to make it better.

UCI insurer pays six-figure settlement over British cyclist's heatstroke death at Gran Fondo World Championships

Barry Covington collapsed while competing at the 2017 event in the south of France, the Gran Fondo taking place during a 39°C heatwave and participants later complaining about a shortage of water and poorly manned feed stops

The family of a cyclist from London who died having collapsed due to heatstroke and dehydration while competing at the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships in France in 2017 have received a six-figure settlement from the event insurers for the sport's governing body.

Barry Covington passed away in hospital a week after collapsing while taking part in the event based out of Albi, Languedoc, in the south of France in August 2017, the Evening Standard reports, the Gran Fondo going ahead during a heatwave which saw temperatures reach 39°C.

There were complaints from participants about the lack of water and hydration points available on the route, with feed stations reportedly lacking the volunteers to staff them properly. Some riders relied on spectators to keep them hydrated while others allegedly resorted to picking up discarded bottles on the roadside in the hope of finding water.

Hugh James law firm took legal action against the UCI's public liability insurer AXA France on the grounds of negligence and a breach of duty, a claim which has now been resolved with Mr Covington's family receiving a six-figure settlement described as "significant".

"While the tragic loss of our beautiful Baz will forever be felt, we find solace in the positive outcome from our legal proceedings and the recent changes to the UCI's heat protocol. These new rules stand to safeguard riders in high temperatures during all future events," Mr Covington's family said in a statement, referencing the UCI's High Temperature Protocol which was announced in December and is expected to be approved by the UCI Management Committee at the end of January.

Building on the previously introduced Extreme Weather Protocol, the High Temperature Protocol means, when necessary, action will be taken to "reduce the risk of heat-related accidents" at UCI races and events.

This may involve moving start zones to shaded areas, providing cold drinks and crushed ice during races, increasing refuelling provision, altering start times to avoid the worst of the heat, or even neutralising sections if conditions become too dangerous.

Rebecca Gilmore of Hugh James' specialist claims team commented: "The real satisfaction after working on this case for so long and supporting the family over many years comes not only from the significant settlement sum but the fact that we have potentially brought about real positive changes to support rider safety in the future."

A member of Penge Cycling Club, in south-east London, the club's Chair James Hanscomb said Barry is still a "celebrated legend" at the club for his "incredible feats of endurance and for being a delightful, warm friend".

"Two positive outcomes have come from Barry's death: one is that we now count his extended family as firm friends. The other is that the UCI has now made the necessary changes to ensure better rider safety at events. Those positives don't come close to making up for the loss of our friend, but we are all delighted to hear of the success of this campaign," Mr Hanscomb said.

Dan joined in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

Latest Comments