No doubt the image of Chris Froome running up Mont Ventoux on Stage 12 of the Tour de France will stay etched on our minds for some time to come. And the media were quick to apportion blame in the direction of the television motorbike that both he and Richie Porte ran into. It always seems that whenever there's a calamity, it's the television moto that carries the can!
So to set the record straight on this one, we need to speak up for Fabrice Roche who was the pilot of the TV moto on that particular day. We've worked with Fabrice on several occasions including earlier this year on the Wuxi Marathon in China. As the number one pilot on the Tour de France and many other key international cycle races for the last 25 years, arguably, he's the most experienced pilot there is. So what was he doing stopping the bike directly in front of the competitors?
In the words of Bob Dylan, "the answer my friend is blowing in the wind!" On that particular day, the high wind left ASO, the organisers, no alternative than to finish the race off the top of the barren and highly exposed mountain top. This meant that spectators who would normally line the last 10km of the climb were compacted further down the mountain. Even when mountain stages run their course, the number of spectators lining the road is often alarming to cyclists and motorcyclists alike as we thread a path between the sea of faces, craning from either side.
Condensing the scene into a much shorter climb was always going to create problems. And it did; resulting in so many spectators crowding the road, that passage was impossible. In fact it wasn't Fabrice's TV moto that was stopped, it was several other neutral service and press motos further up the road that were forced to a halt by the surging crowds. As a result, Fabrice and the pursuing cyclists had nowhere to go. I guess that there was nothing that could have been done and that next time ASO are faced with high mountain top winds, they may consider other options to ensure the safety of the riders and race officials. Cycling is a hugely popular sport these days!