Okay, what the hell was that? I have been watching cycling as well as racing amateur along time ago, and I have never seen anything like what happened at the end of the climb up to Mont Ventoux. With Chris Froome (Sky), Richie Porte (BMC) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) racing hard through the throngs of screaming fans lining both sides of the road, there was soon to be collision with one of the TV motorcycles. At this point, I don't know why the moto had stopped blocking what little bit of road that was left available to the racers. What we all saw was Porte storming up the climb, screaming, drunk, half-crazed fans pushing in on either side, chased by first Mollema and then Froome. Just as I was thinking how could any of these guys pass, the crowds are in the way, the TV moto suddenly stop, leaving an odd camera framing on the screen. A heartbeat later, Porte slams into the back of the motorcycle, his chin hitting the transmitter on the back of the bike. Another heartbeat and Mollema is going head over heals on top of Porte, with Froome joining in the pile. All of this taking place with the odd camera angle, screaming fans, (many filming with their cell phones and tablets) and riders scrambling to get back on their bikes.
Mollema was the first to remount. Porte struggled to get his bike so he could ride on. Froome shoulder his bike for a few steps and then tossed it at a motorcycle official on the side of the road. Then, widely, he set off running up the road, clicking away on his cleats as the fans continued their fracas. It should be noted that a rider may not advance without his (or any bicycle). Eventually, he was given a bike from neutral service, that he could not use, then a bike from his team car. In the end, he had lost minutes, Porte not as much time, and Mollema was the first of the rest.
The race officials first provided a provisional general classification that showed Adam Yates in Yellow, then Mollema, Quintana, Porte, van Garderen with Froome dropping to 6th overall. A huge disaster for the race leader, but given that he had advanced without a bike, which necessitates disqualification, not as bad as it could have been. Finally, the jury took the placings based on the racers positions when the wreck occurred. Like most good compromises, no one was completely pleased with the decision. But now it is on to the individual time trial tomorrow. I am sure there will be plenty more said about the event tomorrow, but now, it goes to show that the Tour always has another surprise around the corner, both figuratively and literally.
To buy this painting, follow this link: