The Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe, wearing the green jersey of best sprinter, the Dutchman Mathieu Van Der Poel, wearing the yellow leader’s jersey of the general, and the Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, wearing the white jersey of best young rider, await the start of the third stage of the Tour de France. Monday. (AP Photo / Daniel Cole)
This is the verdict of former professional cyclist and occasional route planner Dean Downing, following an accident on Saturday in which a bystander reached out on the road with a sign pointed at the television cameras which have captured German rider Tony Martin and knocked down more than half of the peloton. Fortunately, no runner was seriously injured and the race was able to continue, but this led to questions on how to reduce the chances of such incidents happening again.
Downing helped plan the Tour de France route when he arrived in the area in 2014 and also worked in a similar role on subsequent Yorkshire Tours. But as a member of the professional peloton for 20 years, as well as a big fan of cycling, he can see all sides.
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“You can’t control who comes to the biggest bike race in the world,” he began.
“Last year’s Tour was very controlled, most of the crowd wore face masks and many climbs were blocked.
“This year already looks very different, where there seems to be a lot more supporters on the road.
“That’s the beauty of cycling, however, it’s free.
“But stuff like what happened on Saturday is ridiculous, it always has been in my opinion, guys and girls running by the side of the road.
Frenchman Cyril Lemoine receives medical assistance after crashing on the first stage of the Tour de France cycling over 197.8 kilometers (122.9 miles) with a start in Brest and a finish in Landerneau, France, on Saturday. (AP Photo / Daniel Cole)
“The crowd needs to give more respect to the runners and the organizers because it’s something that is absolutely beyond the control of the organizers and the runners.
“The only thing the organizers could do is bar the entire 200 km, and that’s not what everyone wants to see, plus the costs behind that would be astronomical.
“And that would affect the whole atmosphere. Over the years, some stages become lower, some stages will be blocked 3 km from a climb but generally it is 500 m or 1 km.
“From a logistics point of view, there is nothing you can do. The gendarmes pass to warn everyone that they are coming, the outgoing motorcycles pass, so the spectators know that the cyclists are just behind.
Briton Chris Froome lies down on the road after crashing on the first stage of the Tour de France (AP Photo / Daniel Cole)
“It’s just one in the tens of thousands who watched that day who doesn’t think or respect runners. It was extraordinary. “
Dean, right, and Russ Downing ex-professional cyclists who turned their skills to training and set up Downing Cycling. (Photo: Bruce Rollinson)