Tour de France: Porte dismayed and angry with roadside spectators

Mountainside fans 'out of control', says BMC rider

Richie Porte (BMC Racing) expressed his dismay and anger at a small portion of roadside spectators at the Tour de France after a strong ride on the Mont Ventoux was almost undone when he clattered into the back of a race motorbike.

The Australian was at the head of the GC race, on the attack with yellow jersey Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segfredo), when the dense crowds in the unbarriered section of the final kilometre caused the motorbike to slow to a halt, by which point the Australian was unable to avoid a collision.

"It was just a mess," he said. "The crowd was all over the road and the motorbike just stopped right in front of us and we had nowhere to go but straight over the top of the motorbike. Froome was on my wheel and was straight into me."

Mollema was the first to his feet and was the first of the GC men to the line, while Froome was forced to proceed on foot and the advantage Porte had carved out with his former teammate looked like it had been negated. The Australian, who had already suffered one cruel blow this race in the form of a puncture and two lost minutes on stage 2, shook his head as he rode back to the BMC bus, where he told reporters that the result "can't stand".

After lengthy deliberations, it didn't, and race officials awarded Porte and Froome the same time as Mollema – "It's the decision they had to take." Appeased to a certain degree, Porte still expressed his frustration at the situation, and in particular at the fans who get too close to riders on climbs.

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"It's already out of control. I agree that you come to the race, you have a good time but you don't need to be running beside the riders, you don't need to hitting riders, pushing riders.

"Things have got to change and I can't believe there weren't barriers there. At the end of the day I've trained so hard for this and yeah okay now I get the same time as Mollema, but I also crashed and now I'm sore. Tomorrow's a crucial stage as well and it remains to be seen how I'll pull up."

The topic of in-race vehicles has become an increasingly hot one in recent months and years after an alarming string of collisions with riders, and some riders such as Romain Bardet and Lawson Craddock referred to this incident in the context of that debate.

"It's not really the motorbikes," countered Porte. "It's the crowds in your face the whole time, pushing riders. At the top there it was just crazy."

"We love the fans and 99 percent of them are brilliant but why do some of them need to take their selfies and run along beside us? There's passion and there's stupidity and it's not such a fine line between them."

Van Garderen up to 7th overall

Porte moved up to 11th overall for his efforts, while Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) finished with the main GC group and moved up to 7th at 1:32 off Froome thanks to Dan Martin (Etixx-QuickStep), Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff), and Sergio Henao (Team Sky) all losing time.

In fact Van Garderen was off the back of the GC group with Nairo Quintana (Movistar) by the line, but the American avoided losses as times were taken at the 1.2km to go mark. While Mollema didn't seem happy about that fact, van Garderen argued – before the officials delivered their ruling – that times should be neutralised.

"We were coming around a corner and all of a sudden people were just stopped," he said. "I was kind of on the back of the group at that moment so I really got tangled up and lost some time. I can't complain too much, poor Richie [Porte] and [Chris] Froome, they got the worst of it. Me and Quintana also really didn't fare well from it.

"I didn't see much but it was definitely mayhem out there. The crowds get a little out of control and with so many motorbikes, the road is only so big."

Mollema wasn't happy with the situation, but in turn van Garderen wash't best pleased with Mollema, and criticised those who raced hard while Froome and Porte lay stricken by an accident that wasn't of their own making.

"Normally when you see a big GC guy in trouble the gentleman thing to do would be to stop and wait and regroup," said the 27-year-old. "You saw that a lot in the past but these days people just seem to want to take advantage of it."

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