Tour de France 2020

Reactions: Top riders sound off on Ventoux debacle

Tour de France riders sound off on the chaotic finish to stage 12. Richie Porte, Nairo Quintana, and Chris Froome express dismay about dangers.

VAISON LA ROMAINE, France (VN) — The Tour de France descended into chaos in Thursday’s climbing stage at Mont Ventoux. Here are reactions from the main protagonists:

Chris Froome (Sky) — retained yellow jersey: “Ventoux is full of surprises. About 1.2km to go, the motorbike slammed on its brakes — the road was blocked in front — the three of us just ran into the motorbike and another motorbike plowed into me, breaking my frame. I just started running. I knew the car was stuck behind was five minutes behind. I think it was a fair decision, and I want to thank the jury and the organization. It was the right decision.”

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Richie Porte (BMC Racing) — speaking prior to the jury decision: “The crowd was just all on the road and the motorbike just stopped right in front of me. I had nowhere to go and next minute straight over the top of the motorbike. It was just a mess. Froome’s on my wheel, straight into me. I don’t now what you’re going to do, but they need to do something about it, because it’s not fair. One minute we’re 23 seconds in front, the next thing, for something so silly, everybody’s back on us. [This] can’t stand. It can’t happen like that. Surely the jury has to look at it and use some sort of discretion because, I mean, if you can’t control the crowds then what can you control? It’s not really the motorbikes, it’s the crowd. They’re just in your face the whole time, pushing riders.”

Adam Yates (Orica – BikeExchange) — he was provisional leader until the jury decision: “No one would have wanted to take the jersey like that. I am happy with that decision. If it happened to me, I wouldn’t want that to be with me. It was dangerous, but the fans make the sport. It is was it is. It’s an unfortunate situation, that’s all. Froome is the rightful owner of the yellow jersey. It wouldn’t have felt right to take the jersey like that. You want to take the jersey with your legs.”

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) — speaking prior to the jury decision: “The stage was very difficult, with a lot of wind. We did the best we could when the others suffered their problem. There were too many motorbikes and too many public. We saved the situation and didn’t lose time. It was the result of bad organization, but those are circumstances of the race.”

Bauke Mollema (Trek – Segafredo):
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Thomas De Gendt (Lotto – Soudal) — stage winner: “There were a lot of people in the last kilometer, they should do something about that. There was not even a place for one moto. I didn’t see what happened, but it is a big problem.”

Nicolas Portal (Sky sport director) — speaking prior to jury decision: “It’s crazy, there’s nothing to do with the weather or the barriers. It’s a shame about what happened. It’s not just one spectator, it’s about thousands. We hope the race jury will show some clemency. We’ve animated the race, and today we were on the offensive, creating splits. And now this happens. There was a wall of people, and we just couldn’t get through. The Sky car was blocked, and we couldn’t get through. We heard Chris was running. It was insanity. It’s more than just a mechanical, we couldn’t get even get through to him. It’s just crazy.”

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) — speaking prior to the jury decision: “It was a strange day, a day marked by accidents. It’s a shame that something like this happens. That’s cycling. It turned out OK for Movistar.”

Dave Brailsford (Sky principal): “Every time we go up Ventoux, there is a surprise. Everyone saw that it was an accident. I think the jury and the organization made the right decision. It was fair play. It’s fair that Richie, Chris, and Mollema were the best riders today, and they shouldn’t pay the price for an accident. It was a good decision to take the time at 1km to go. We have this rule of 3km, so it’s the same kind of thing. These were exceptional circumstances. Maybe now Chris will run the Paris marathon.”

Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale): “The TV moto bikes were getting in the way all the way up the climb. The people were pressed in on the riders, and they were also very dangerous. It was dangerous to even race, and look what happened in the end. This has caused damage to the image of the Tour and of cycling.”

Geraint Thomas (Sky): “Froome is from Kenya, so we expect him to run when he doesn’t have his bike [laughs]. Joking aside, this was an accident that had nothing to do with sport. Froomey demonstrated he was the best of the rivals. He was the strongest, and it was only this mess that prevented him from taking more time.”