It was one of the most unique sights of the Tour de France in recent years as the Maillot Jaune holder Chris Froome (Team Sky) had to run up part of Mont Ventoux after dense crowds caused a motorbike crash which resulted in stage 12 going down in the history books as one of the most memorable stages ever.
It certainly wasn’t what the organisers wanted after they had to reduce the stage because of high winds – the stage was supposed to finish on the top of the ‘Bald Mountain’ but after consideration the finish line was at Chalet-Reynard.
For Thomas de Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) and Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data) who were out in front before the crash happened, the crowds were dangerously close to the rider’s then.
But when the Yellow Jersey breakaway group came up the final kilometres the crowds were just unrelenting, and it was inevitable something was going to happen, but the way it played out was a surprise for everyone.
The nature of the crash was bad enough, but for Froome, Richie Porte (BMC) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) who had already drawn out a 18 second lead over Nairo Quintana (Movistar) it was a crash at precisely the wrong time.
But after plenty of deliberations, the race jury gave Froome, Porte and Mollema all the same time; but for the Australian it still puts him 2min22s behind his former teammate Froome.
Porte says the final kilometres of stage 12 was just a ‘mess’
One of the main draws of Le Tour is that the spectators are allowed to be close to the action, whilst many of them are respectful and civil towards the riders, some aren’t and it has been a discussion that cycling fans have pored over for years about what to do with the minority who cause episodes like one we saw yesterday.
It might be time for UCI to have a rethink on their crowd control policies, because something like that can’t happen again.
It’s bad enough rider’s crashing, but seeing the Yellow Jersey run up part of a Tour stage without a bike is just comical and something the organisers and the Tour will not want to see happen again.
Speaking after the carnage, Porte said: “The crowd was all over the road and the motorbike just stopped right in front of us and we had nowhere to go but straight over the top of the motorbike.”
It was a scene never before seen in a Tour stage, it was utter carnage, to be frank. But fortunately for Porte and Mollema their bike’s decided to work, but for Froome his frame was snapped by the impact.
Porte said he is unsure what the UCI will do, but insisted they have to do something, because the farce cost him vital seconds in his bid to win the Yellow Jersey.
Porte says crazy fans over step the line
As mentioned a lot of the fans respect the riders; and this year already we have had incidents with fans; a couple of stages ago George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) collided with a spectator as she try to get a better angle for a photo.
Porte said the fans are brilliant most of the time, but a minority can be a real hindrance: “We love the fans and 99% of them are brilliant but why do some of them need to take their selfies and run along beside us?”
“There’s passion and there’s stupidity and it’s not such a fine line between them,” said the 31-year-old.