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Nibali: Fans often turn races into a ‘circus’

The Italian said alcohol-fueled fans create dangerous situations on climbs during races.

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FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), after crashing and abandoning the Tour de France due to an incident with a fan, says “cycling has become a circus.”

The Sicilian winner of all three grand tours became entangled what appeared to be a fan’s camera strap and fell on the closing climb up Alpe d’Huez in stage 12. Moments before that, he said he saw another fan punch four-time Tour winner Chris Froome (Sky).

Nibali suffered a fractured vertebra, but he is now preparing for the Vuelta a España that starts August 25.

“In some instances, cycling has become a circus,” Nibali told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “Fans can be there, but this is not good. The alcohol consumption is too high, and people will do anything just to be on TV.

“With fans in the middle of the road, often with flags, we are pedaling blindly without understanding where we are going and praying to the gods above that the road opens ahead of us.”

Nibali had aimed for the overall in the Tour de France, which was just beginning its crucial mountain stages when he crashed out. The investment was so much and the circumstances surrounding the crash so ridiculous that his Bahrain-Merida team want compensation from race organizer ASO.

General manager Brent Copeland said during the Tour, “If ASO doesn’t want to come to terms with some kind of insurance, then we will have to take some legal action.”

“Seventy percent of the team’s visibility comes from the Tour, so for this reason, the team and I paid heavily,” Nibali continued. “Not counting the injury, how much economically has this set us back?

“And Froome never complains, but is it right that he is hit while he’s working? He took one right before I fell. Too often we are racing in insane situations.”

Nibali fell with around four kilometers remaining in the stage. He jumped back on his bike and finished the famous climb 13 seconds behind the race leaders. That night, however, he was forced to abandon.

“What can I do? It upsets me because I had yet to show myself in the Tour. There were still the mountains to come,” Nibali said.

Nibali is aiming for the Vuelta a España, which he won in 2010, and to build for the world championships September 30.

Last week, he rode hard for the first time since leaving the Tour.

“I don’t even know what condition I’ll be in when the Vuelta starts,” he said. “The most logical thing, given my condition and thinking of the worlds, is to read the race without thinking about the [general] classification.”