Tour de France stars thrilled by Yorkshire Grand Depart - but not by fans taking selfies
Scale of support for race leaves impression on Geraint Thomas and others, but reckless fans an issue +Holme Moss has new Strava KOM
The beauty of Yorkshire and the enthusiasm of the huge crowds that have greeted the Tour de France this weekend have made a huge impression on the riders taking part in the race – but a number have hit out against the ‘selfie’ trend that they say puts themselves, and fans, at risk.
First, the positive reactions. Estimates now are that as many as 2.5 million people may have watched each of the two stages, leading race director Christian Prudhomme to describe the Grand Depart a the best in the Tour’s history.
The riders too were impressed by the size of the crowds, with the Press Association quoting Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas saying: "It was unbelievable at times. Going up Holme Moss I had goosebumps. It was amazing.”
AG2R rider Samuel Dumoulin was likewise impressed by the sheer number of spectators, describing today’s stage as “incredible” and “colossal.”
On his personal blog he wrote: “There were people everywhere, even on the descents. It was like Alpe d’Huez for 200 kilometres.”
He noted that he had seen no “overspill or major problem, with spectators better organised and penned in than on the previous day.”
NetApp Endura’s Zak Dempster compared the atmosphere to that of one of his home country’s biggest sporting events, saying yesterday on Twitter: “I imagine that's what walking onto the MCG [Melbourne Cricket Ground] on [Australian Rules football] grand final day is like, but we walked through the MCG for 200km. Thank you Yorkshire!”
Today, he added: “Real solid stage today, Yorkshire has been crazy. Never in my life have I seen crowds like that! #tdf”
And Garmin-Sharp rider Andrew Talansky said: “What a day to start the Tour! Never seen so many people out on the roads. Thank you Yorkshire for starting us off in grand style!”
Giant-Shimano’s Tom Dumoulin, who helped Marcel Kittel win yesterday’s opening stage, also likened the experience to being in a sports ground: “What. A. Day. Winning after riding 190 km through a crowded stadium! Thank you Yorkshire! #yelloooow”
Riders hit out at selfies
As we reported earlier today, following yesterday’s opening stage a number of riders including Chris Froome and Fabian Cancellara had urged spectators to give riders more room.
There were similar calls after today’s stage from York to Sheffield, won by Astana’s Vincenzo Nibali, with some blaming the ‘selfie’ phenomenon for being responsible for people putting themselves in the line of the riders with no regard for safety.
Thomas said: “The worst thing is when people have got their back to the peloton taking selfies.
"There were a few. They don't see us coming, they're stood in the road and it's dodgy.
"It's the new pain in the arse. They were just stood in the gutter.
"They don't realise we use every part of the road. There are a lot of us and we use every inch.
"If you're on the front (of the peloton) you can see them but if you're two back you nearly hit them.
"If you want to go and do that, go and sit in a tree. There's not much racing on British roads and people don't understand how fast we're going and how close we get.
"There have been too many accidents with riders hitting spectators. We don't want to see that but it could easily happen."
His appeal was echoed by BMC Racing’s Tejay van Garderen, who on Twitter described the behaviour of selfie-taking spectators as "A dangerous mix of vanity and stupidity.
"Standing [in] the middle of the road with [your] back turned while 200 cyclists come at you, just to take a selfie. #think #TDF2014”
He added. "That being said, I love the crowds and thank you for your support. But please give us room."
The problem isn’t so much the selfie as such – and official #TDFSelfie hashtag has been trending on Twitter, where you can even find race director Christian Prudhomme in a selfie with Welcome to Yorkshire’s Gary Verity – but rather, the potential consequences of taking one while the race is in progress.
Some teams have been encouraging fans to send in Tour-themed selfies, and Tinkof-Saxo have retweeted a picture of their favourite to date, in which Alberto Contador deploys some top photo-bombing skills.
Finally, Vincenzo Niabli wasn’t the only winner today, as this tweet from former Sky rider Russell Downing, one of the ambassadors for Yorkshire’s Grand Depart, shows – FDJ rider Jérémy Roy nabbed his Holme Moss KOM on Strava.