Tour de France 2020

Froome’s spectator punch: How does it stack up?

Chris Froome's stage 8 punch-up with a fan at the Tour got us thinking. How does it stack up in the canon of fisticuffs?

We here at VeloNews do not condone violence. That said, we realize that when overzealous spectators come into close proximity with uber-competitive cyclists, tempers sometimes flare, and fists sometimes fly. Imagine how you’d feel if a few hundred drunken, flag-waving Basque fans surrounded your work cubicle and began spraying you with water? Much like bike throws, cyclist vs. spectator fights are part of the sport.

This past week we saw defending Tour champ Chris Froome wallop a wig-wearing fan with a left hook that would make Sugar Ray Leonard proud. So how does Froome’s punch stack up in the canon of rider-vs.-fan fisticuffs?

Chris Froome: The bony blow TKO

With his cocked elbows and skinny arms, Chris Froome is probably the pointiest champion in Tour history. I’ve always wondered what kind of damage those bony limbs could do if they were used as weapons. We got to see this on stage 8 of this year’s Tour, when a zany fan in a Colombia jersey and yellow mullet wig ran alongside the group up the Col de Peyresourde. Froome’s devastating left hook caught the fan at mid-wig level, and from the TV angle, it looked like he’d decked a muppet.

Vincenzo Nibali: The Girl, Interrupted cell phone smash

The Shark of Messina was on the attack during stage 18 of the 2014 Tour de France when a bikini-clad fan with her back turned to the action stepped into the road. Why was she ignoring the world’s largest spectator event during its most-compelling moment? Because she was on her cell phone, of course! Nibali threw zero punches, but he landed a punishing elbow while swerving to avoid calamity. We have no clue if the phone survived his wrath.

Alberto Contador: The doctor is NOT in uppercut

Alberto Contador’s quest to win the 2011 Tour de France did not go as planned. The lowest moment came on the slopes of L’Alpe d’Huez, when a fan dressed in green hospital scrubs came at him with a stethoscope. Was he hoping to perform a physical? Did he want to check Contador’s pulse? Who knows. Contador landed a mighty uppercut right onto the good doctor’s chin, ending the checkup prematurely.

Lance Armstrong: The Dope Devil can eat snow shove

Lance Armstrong made his return to pro cycling at the 2009 Amgen Tour of California, and at least one fan was hell-bent on spoiling the fun. His outfit blended Charlie Brown colors with a Didi Senft-inspired devil costume, and the finishing touch was a devil trident made of enormous syringes. Yeah, he gets serious creativity points. As this demented Charlie Brown devil trotted alongside the peloton, Lance did the most Lance-thing possible, and chucked him right into a snowbank. I don’t think anybody complained.

Bernard Hinault: The Badger don’t give a damn assault

These days, Bernard Hinault is best known for his work patrolling the Tour de France podium for protesters, drunk fans, and other riffraff. As it turns out, he has a long history with this type of work. During the 1984 Paris-Nice, the race was interrupted by protesting workers from a shipyard. Hinault leapt off his bike and sprung into action, throwing haymakers at whichever unlucky union worker was in his path.