It was a perfect summer weekend day for stage 14 of the Tour de France from Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule to Lyon, and the fans were out en masse to cheer the peloton along. With Bastille Day coinciding with the next big battle on the Mont Ventoux on Sunday, the race organiser, ASO, has asked riders to appeal to the public via Twitter to keep everyone safe.
Three people have been killed while spectating along the route since 2000: a 12 year-old boy was hit by the publicity caravan that year, two years later a seven-year-old suffered the same fate, and in 2009 a 60 year-old woman died after being struck by a police motorcycle. However, the bigger danger normally befalls the riders, who have crashed after being hit by cameras, gigantic hands, or, most famously, souvenir musettes like the one that felled Lance Armstrong on the climb to Luz Ardiden in 2003.
Cadel Evans (BMC) got involved in the awareness campaign tweeting: "Having spent a few years riding up the side dodging people, picnic chairs, prams and (frighteningly) small children here at the Tour..." and then repeated a four-tweet appeal by David Millar (Garmin-Sharp).
"The race director of the TdF asked me to use my 'tweeter' to offer safety guidance for the brilliant public on the road. I have 4 tips," Millar wrote.
"Do not stand on the road, it may seem unimaginable in the hours of waiting preceding the race, but when we do arrive we use ALL of it!
"Remove children/pets/chairs from road when stepping back to avoid us, they more often than not end up being forgotten in the panic.
"Bike riders appear further away through a camera lense/phone/ipad than they actually are, take a long shot, not a close-up!
And finally Millar wrote, "Cheer for me! We hear everything when passing and, enjoy the spectacle, I'll be standing there with you soon."
Cyclingnews prefers not to write about people getting hurt, so please, if you are on the course during the long stage to Mont Ventoux or the rest of the Tour, please respect the riders and stay clear of the moving peloton and caravan.