Thomas de Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) snatched victory on Mont Ventoux as drama engulfed the closing kilometres of the 'Bald Mountain' as Chris Froome (Team Sky), Richie Porte (BMC), and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) were involved in a crash with a motorbike which saw the Maillot Jaune run up Ventoux on Bastille Day as stage 12 of the Tour de France will surely go down as one of the best yet.
We have seen plenty of problems this year with motorbikes involved in professional races; of course we will all remember Wanty Groupe Gobert’s Antoine Demoitie tragic death earlier this season; that too involved a motorbike.
But today you can’t really blame the motorbike, as the crowd on Ventoux was dense and with many people to try and control it became nigh on impossible.
But ultimately it was the crowd that caused the mayhem which ensued in the final kilometres of what was supposed to be an exciting end to what is an iconic climb.
Crash in final kilometres caused untold chaos on Ventoux
At the start of the day the organisers made the decision to reduce the climb of Ventoux because of high winds, but if they were expecting a smooth transition at the new finish at Chalet-Reynard, they were wrong. As Froome, Porte, and Mollema’s collision threatens to overshadow what was a superb day of racing.
There is a first time for everything, and today the spectators saw the leader of the race, the Maillot Jaune holder Froome run up part of Ventoux in just his cleats because his Pinarello bike was rendered useless after the crash – it was certainly one of the most unique sights of the Tour in recent years.
It looked as though the crowd combined with the closeness of the motorbike caused the carnage; but the disappointing aspect of the crash was that it was at such a crucial point in proceedings which saw Mollema, Porte and Froome out in front ahead of Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) in the battle for the Maillot Jaune.
The collision on Ventoux overshadowed what was a superb day of racing
De Gendt won, but the Belgium rider will probably not grab much of the headlines as the comical crash will unfortunately eat up most of those – but the day started with the climber on the attack, and it ended with him savouring what is the biggest win of his career.
There was a lot of action in the early part of the race; the peloton split, leaving Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) and most notably Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) struggling to catch up; but en-route to Ventoux Simon Gerrans misjudged a corner on a descent and crashed taking down Sky’s Ian Stannard with him which allowed the former to bridge the gap.
But the day started with the likes of Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL- Jumbo), Daniel Teklehaimanot (Dimension-Data), Daniel Navarro (Cofidis) all involved in the break which ultimately stayed away until the conclusion of the stage.
With the peloton split it was looking rough for Pinot and Sagan who were distanced; but the crash involving Gerrans brought everyone back together before they took on the famous Ventoux climb.
Porte looked on point until the fiasco in the final kilometres
With the stage won, all eyes turned down the road as the Yellow Jersey group begun their game of cat and mouse – it was Quintana who attacked rather tepidly at first; but he did wait and accelerated again – but it looked like the Columbian didn’t have that usual zip in his legs, but one man who did was Porte.
Froome threatened to go, and it was his former teammate who was right on his wheel. It was extremely difficult to see who was going to make the telling blow; but it was the leader of the race who again launched his attack and this time it dropped Quintana.
And with Porte by his side, it looked like the pair was going to ride to the finish unscathed; Mollema joined the party, and then that crash happened, which has yet to be resolved in terms who will wear what come the start of the day tomorrow.