VAISON-LA-ROMAIN, France (VN) — Pierre-Andre Greffet sat on the back of one of Mavic’s yellow motorbikes, driving just behind Chris Froome’s group in the final kilometers of Mont Ventoux. His colleague Jacques Corteggiani was in the Mavic car behind. A normal climb, it seemed. And then chaos.
The two recounted the story of Chris Froome’s crash and hectic run up Ventoux to VeloNews after the stage finish.
“I was on the moto just behind Froome and Porte,” Greffet said. “The TV motorcycle hit a spectator. I don’t know if the spectator had been running and fallen down, or was just in the way. The motorcycle couldn’t avoid him.”
“Once the motorcycle stopped, the road was too narrow for anybody to pass.”
The consequences were broadcast across the world. Richie Porte (BMC) slammed into the back of the TV moto, then Froome slammed into him, then Bauke Mollema (Trek – Segafredo) flew into the whole pile of bikes and limbs and motorcycle.
The three untangled themselves and stood, but Froome’s right seat stay was broken in half. The bike was unrideable. He tossed it to the side and set off on foot. It was at this point that the live TV footage cut to him.
Geffet followed on the neutral moto. He’s been a mechanic with Mavic for seven years; Corteggiani has 30 Tours de France under his belt. Neither had seen anything like this.
“After Froome got off his bike, we rode next to him on the moto, and I was shouting, “Hey! Stop! Grab a bike off the yellow car until your car comes,” Geffet said.
Greffet is visible in the television coverage pointing back at the Mavic car behind him, urging Froome to get on a bike. The Sky team car was still stuck behind, attempting to get up through the crowds.
UCI rules require a rider to cross the finish line with a bicycle. Crossing on foot is fine, so long as there’s a bike in hand. A neutral bike counts. But Froome wouldn’t want to ride one for long.
In the car behind, Corteggiani had only just made it through the chaos, but was still far ahead of Sky’s team car. He had neutral bikes on his roof, in different sizes and with different types of pedals. But the goal was only to get Froome on something until his own bike showed up, Mavic staff said.
“We gave him the first bike that was available, off the edge of the rack. We moved as fast as possible,” said Corteggiani. “We put him on the bike, and while it wasn’t perfect — an L, not an XL, and not with Shimano pedals — Froome got the bike that was the quickest [to access].”
“He was only on the bike for a minute before his team arrived,” Corteggiani added.
“The service course mechanics have done testing with the different pedal ‘options’. The problem is the same no matter what you do,” said Mavic’s Chad Moore. “Wrong clipless pedals are the same problem as with flat pedals. Your feet move everywhere. Pedals with toe straps are impossible to put your foot into. So, there is no perfect solution. The best option is to get on a bike and keep moving until your car can arrive.”
After struggling forward on a bike that was slightly too small, with Mavic pedals that use different cleats from his normal Shimano pedals, Froome’s team car caught him and he hopped back on a spare Pinarello and sped off. Corteggiani put the yellow bike back on the roof, ending its minute of fame during Froome’s minute of panic.