The passion of the fans along the route of the Tour de France can be exhilarating. This year it can also be downright dangerous. It came to a head Thursday during Stage 12 on one of the most iconic climbs of the Tour – the Mont Ventoux.
Overnight, race organizers moved the finish line, making it 6 kilometers shorter because of high winds at the summit. But what the organizers failed to do was extend the barricades in the final kilometers of the race. The crowds were out of the control in the final kilometer, forcing a motorbike to stop in the road. Three cyclists, including the yellow jersey of Chris Froome, crashed.
Chaos ensued. It was the third time spectators got too close for comfort. Froome, you may recall, punched a spectator whose flag was about to get caught in his front wheel. On another day, a fan unplugged a generator causing the 1K banner to deflate and fold – right on top of rider Adam Yates. The energy of the fans and their proximity to the riders is part of the majesty of the cycling. But there’s a line. You can’t host a bike race if you can’t keep the crowd at bay.