Bizarre scenes unfolded at the end of Thursday’s 12th stage of the Tour de France, as Chris Froome was forced to run towards the finish line after a crash with a TV motorcycle.
As the day’s action drew to a close, Richie Porte collided with a motorcycle amid throngs of fans, causing Froome and Bauke Mollema to crash as well, with race leader Froome also damaging his bike.
That led to the strange spectacle of Froome running up Mont Ventoux after tossing his bike as he tried to limit the time lost.
— ITV4 (@ITV4) July 14, 2016
Froome had to wait for the neutral service vehicle to get a new bike, but it was not the correct size and didn’t have pedals to match his cleats, so he got rid of that bike as well before stopping to get another one from the Team Sky car.
He eventually crossed the finish line almost seven minutes down on stage winner Thomas De Gendt.
“This is a disaster. They have to do something,” said Porte afterwards. “It’s not fair, and it can’t continue like this. If you cannot control the public, what can you control? They’re in your face all the time, pushing riders. It’s completely crazy.”
“We’ve been animated the race, and today we were on the offensive, creating splits,” said Sky sport director Nicolas Portal. “And now this happens. There was a wall of people, and we just couldn’t get through. The Sky car was blocked by the commissaires car, and we couldn’t get through.”
Fortunately for Froome and Porte, race organisers – after extensive deliberation – decided to give them the same time as Mollema – who had managed to carry on.
The end result was that Froome kept the yellow jersey, and now leads second-placed Adam Yates by 47 seconds.
Mollema moves up to third, 56 seconds back.
All of the chaos ended up overshadowing De Gendt’s performance, as he finally earned a coveted Tour de France stage win.
The Belgian formed part of the day’s early breakaway, and stayed in front as the break began to pull apart on the final climb.
De Gendt was then dropped by Serge Pauwels and Daniel Navarro, only to catch up again and launch an attack with three kms remaining.
After shedding Navarro, the two remaining riders continued to do battle right up until the final 100 meters, when De Gendt was able to pull away for the win.
Stage 12 results
1. Thomas DE GENDT, LOTTO SOUDAL, in 4:31:51
2. Serge PAUWELS, DIMENSION DATA, at :02
3. Daniel NAVARRO GARCIA, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at :14
4. Stef CLEMENT, IAM CYCLING, at :40
5. Sylvain CHAVANEL, DIRECT ENERGIE, at :40
6. Bertjan LINDEMAN, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 2:52
7. Daniel TEKLEHAIMANOT, DIMENSION DATA, at 3:13
8. Sep VANMARCKE, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at 3:26
9. Chris Anker SÖRENSEN, FORTUNEO – VITAL CONCEPT, at 4:23
10. Bauke MOLLEMA, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 5:05